Jury Sees Riley Co. Double Murder Suspect's Interviews With Police

By: Lindsey Rogers Email
By: Lindsey Rogers Email

RILEY COUNTY, Kan. (WIBW) -- The second day of testimony wrapped up Tuesday in the capital murder trial for 24-year-old Luis Aguirre in Riley County.

Jurors heard from the suspect himself as his interviews with police were played in court.

Aguirre is charged with capital murder in the September 2009 deaths of his ex-girlfriend, 18-year-old Tanya Maldonado and the couple’s 13-month-old, son Juan.

The bodies of Tanya and Juan were discovered in late October 2009 by a hunter in a shallow grave east of Ogden.

Prosecutors say Aguirre brought Tanya and Juan to Ogden to the apartment where he was living with his new girlfriend, Dulce Mendez. Mendez was stationed at Fort Riley and was deployed to Iraq when the killings took place. Tanya and Juan had been living in Chicago in a homeless shelter and were desperate for support. Aguirre was also originally from Chicago and was in the National Guard. During training in Alabama, he met Mendez and moved to Ogden to live with her and her 18-month-old son.

Mendez took the stand Tuesday and told the jury that she was in a very serious relationship with Aguirre at the time of the murders and they planned to get married and were saving up for a wedding. She says she felt comfortable leaving her son in Aguirre's care while she was deployed. She testified that Aguirre never told her he had a son and when she did finally find out, the news came as a surprise to her. Mendez was interviewed by a CID agent in Iraq after the murders. She said Aguirre was supposed to move out of their apartment in Ogden by September of 2009 and take her son down to her parent's home in Austin, TX so she wouldn't have to keep paying rent. Aguirre was not working at the time. She said she did not know what "business" kept him at the apartment for several more weeks. The murders took place on September 21, 2009 and the victims were buried in the early morning hours of September 22, 2009.

Detective Ryan Runyan with the Riley County Police Department also testified. He went to Austin to interview Aguirre on October 30th and November 3, 2009 after the victims' bodies were found and identified. Runyan says he told Aguirre that he was a police officer, not a homicide detective, and he came to talk to him about the whereabouts of Tanya. The recorded interviews lasted several hours and were played in court. At first, Aguirre said Tanya and Juan had never been to Ogden. He said Tanya had told him that she was giving Juan up for adoption and Aguirre said he was searching for his son. When Runyan and his fellow detective told Aguirre that they knew for a fact that Tanya had been to Kansas and Aguirre acknowledged that they had shown up at his place, driven by another man. The detectives asked him why he didn't tell them that straight off the bat if he was really trying to locate his son.

When Aguirre told Tanya that they weren't getting back together, she cried and then left Ogden for California to see a relative.

Then, the detectives confronted Aguirre about Tanya's death. Aguirre told the investigators that in the midst of an argument and struggle in the kitchen, he covered Tanya’s mouth for five minutes to stop her from yelling and he didn't realize that he was also covering her nose. After she stopped kicking and moving, Aguirre says he thought she had calmed down and let her go. He says she started spitting up blood and he tried to revive her with chest compressions but she died.

When he went to check on his son so he wouldn't wander into the kitchen and see what had happened with his mother, Aguirre says he found toddler asleep, somewhat hanging off his bed. Aguirre says he tucked Juan in tightly and later found him face down on a pillow with a pacifier in his mouth and he could not be revived.

The defense says Aguirre never meant for Tanya and Juan to die and that their murders were not premeditated. Aguirre's attorney says he was scared to call 911 because he didn’t think he would be believed and he panicked.

The trial continues Wednesday at the Riley County Courthouse. District Court Judge Meryl Wilson is presiding over the trial.

Aguirre remains in custody. He's pleaded not guilty to capital murder.

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