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Prosecutors rested their case late Wednesday after testimony that included Johnathan Quiles’ ex-wife and brother, who turned him in to police.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Undercover informants and a brother-turned-informant were among those testifying at a high-profile death penalty trial Wednesday. Johnathan Quiles is accused of killing his niece, 16-year-old Iyana Sawyer, because she was pregnant with his child. The teen vanished from Terry Parker High School in late 2018, but her body was never found.
Day five in the case began with continued testimony by the lead case detective, reading explicit and menacing Snapchat messages from Quiles to Sawyer in the months leading up to her disappearance.
“I’m very angry with you now. I’m going to hit you later,” said one. “I’m just so in love with you, I’ll kill you and cry.”
The state then called Quiles’ ex-wife, Naomi Mobley. She said she was initially defensive when her sisters suggested her husband of five years was interacting inappropriately with Sawyer, and might even be the father of her unborn baby.
But Mobley gradually began to believe he was capable of killing the teen. She said when she made that realization, she began praying to God about why she was going to abandon her marriage vows.
“Everything in me, at that moment, let go. Because from that moment on, I explained in my prayer, that I could not stand by him still and look at myself in the mirror, because I no longer believed him.”
In testimony pointedly directed at the defendant, Mobley recalled his behavior before and after the crime.
“Prior to that he was fidgety, nervous … restless. After she went missing then he slept like a baby. And I’m aware of this because I was very pregnant, and I was up every hour on the hour to go to the bathroom as he slept like a baby.”
Mobley’s testimony was followed by a lengthy recording of Quiles secretly made by jailhouse informants in which he confesses to killing his niece by shooting her and then dumping her body in a container at the automotive junkyard where he worked.
Quiles also confessed to his biological brother Joseph just a few days after Sawyer’s disappearance. He testified he didn’t initially believe the confession, until he learned from their mother that his brother actually had a niece that was missing.
Joseph Quiles told Prosecutor Dan Skinner he struggled with calling the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, but ultimately decided he had to.
Skinner: Did you say you love your brother?
Skinner: Did you want to call police?
Quiles: Absolutely not. But we don’t tolerate anything that has to do with abuse of women and children. We don’t tolerate that kind of stuff. That’s not the cloth that I’m cut from.
Testimony resumes at 9:00 a.m. Thursday. Quiles’ defense team plans to present three witnesses.
Closing arguments are expected to begin after noon.