Duval County

Jury selection begins for Jacksonville man accused of killing his niece

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jury selection begins Monday for the trial of a man accused of raping and killing his niece in 2018.

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Johnathan Quiles is accused of killing his 16-year-old niece Iyana Sawyer and her unborn child in December 2018. Sawyer was last seen on Dec. 19, 2018, traveling to her uncle’s job at a salvage yard on North Main Street after leaving school. Her body was never found, but police believe she was shot dead and he body dumped at Otis Road Landfill.

Action News Jax told you in June that the judge would decide if past crimes committed by Quiles could be heard at trial. The judge granted the state’s request Aug. 11, meaning Quiles’ past deeds can be mentioned to prove a motive in court.

Read: Judge to decide if past crimes of man accused of killing niece can be heard at trial

The state also filed a motion asking the judge to apply Florida’s new death penalty law to the case. The new law allows a jury to recommend death with an 8-4 vote rather than be unanimous.

Quiles’ defense filed counter motions arguing that implementing the new law would be unconstitutional since the alleged murder took place in 2019 while the death penalty law still required a unanimous jury.

The judge has yet to rule on the death penalty motions, as he said he needed to better research the new law before making a decision.

Jury selection begins at 10 a.m. at Duval County Courthouse. Action News Jax will be in the courtroom and will provide updates as we get them.

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