Partly Cloudy


Capital murder trial to begin here June 18

By Katherine Wartell

Jury selection for the capital murder trial of Luis Aguirre was finalized Friday afternoon and lawyers will now have a week to prepare before opening statements on Monday, June 18.

Attorneys for the prosecution and defense spent Friday afternoon whittling down a panel of 42 down to 12 jurors and two alternates.

Aguirre, 24, is the first person in Riley County to be tried for capital murder since the death penalty was reinstated in 1994.

He is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend Tanya Maldonado, 18, and their 13-month-old son, Juan, in 2009. Authorities arrested him in Austin, Texas, where he was reportedly living with his new girlfriend and her family after the partially decomposed bodies of Maldonado and her son were found by a hunter in a shallow grave near Ogden on Oct. 25, 2009. Police have estimated that they were killed in September 2009.

In earlier hearings, the state, represented by County Attorney Barry Wilkerson and Assistant County Attorney Barry Disney, argued that Maldonado and Juan had become an albatross for Aguirre and that he killed them intentionally and with premeditation.

Aguirre, represented by Jeffrey Wicks, pleaded not guilty to that charge.

Jury selection began June 5.  Prior to jury selection, the potential jurors had filled out a 24-page questionnaire which, in part, questioned them on their opinion of the death penalty. Because Aguirre could face the death penalty, lawyers wanted to weed out potential jurors who were absolutely for or against it.

The trial has the potential to have two phases. The first phase will be to try Aguirre for capital murder. If he is found guilty, the second phase will to be to determine whether Aguirre should be sentenced to death or given life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

The state estimated that the trial will last two to four weeks.

Aguirre is confined to the Riley County Jail on $2.5 million bond.

Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | The Manhattan Mercury, 318 North 5th Street, Manhattan, Kansas, 66502 | Copyright 2016