ADEL – More witnesses have taken the stand on the third day of the criminal trial involving the State of Iowa against Carlos Hernandez-Ventura. Hernandez-Ventura has been accused of three counts of murder in the first degree for the deaths of Lourdes Flor De Leake, 34, Melany Elizabeth Barraza, 14, and Juan Jimenez, 78.
The State of Iowa called Daniel Simmons, Patrolman for the Morrison, Illinois Police Department to stand. Simmons was the officer who discovered Hernandez at the Morrison Police Department, knocking on the door for help.
Hernandez-Ventura spoke very little English, but mentioned “cut” out loud, Simmons recalls. At the time, Hernandez-Ventura’s hand was wrapped in a piece of clothing.
Simmons contacted the Morrison EMS and Paramedics arrived five minutes after.
Hernandez-Ventura provided the crew with an ID and allowed Simmons to look through the yellow duffel bag he carried.
Simmons then went to the hospital with Hernandez-Ventura.
Since there was a language barrier, Simmons recalls a Paramedic downloading a “Google Translator” app to better understand communication.
Simmons questioned Hernandez-Ventura what he used to cut himself.
“His reply was a knife,” Simmons said.
Later during the testimony, Dallas County Attorney asked Simmons if any of Hernandez-Ventura’s responses caught his attention.
“The paramedic asked him how he injured himself,” Simmons said. “He said through the app that Daniel Leake made me kill his wife.”
During the cross-examination, Defense Attorney Jill Eimermann brought to attention Hernandez-Ventura’s willingness to speak, despite a language barrier.
“He would have been willing to provide a written statement, but asked instead for a better translator,” Eimermann said. “Again, so that he could give you information.”
Simmons told Eimermann that Hernandez-Ventura requested a translator, so he could, in Hernandez-Ventura’s words, “make sure that we understood each other better.”
Morrison Police Department Patrolman, Gabe Gomez, started his shift at 6 in the morning. He was told to report to the hospital where Hernandez-Ventura was located. Gomez would act as a translator.
Gomez says Hernandez-Ventura appeared very calm at the time.
“He had said that he was involved in a murder and that it was ‘Flor,’ and that Daniel had made him do it,” Gomez said.
A testimony was later given by Nathan Stepp, Paramedic at the Morrison Community Hospital.
Stepp arrived at the Morrison police station on Oct. 29 to find Hernandez-Ventura and Simmons outside. Stepp downloaded ‘Google Translator’ in order to speak to Hernandez-Ventura about medical purposes, including the topic of how he cut his hand.
Hernandez-Ventura, through the Google Translator app, told Stepp he received his hand injury from a machete, Stepp said.
“He was cooperative and calm with us,” Stepp said, regarding Hernandez-Ventura’s demeanor throughout the questioning.
Stepp found out that Hernandez-Ventura had been in Iowa, but was unable to determine a specific location.
When asked what he had been doing earlier, Hernandez-Ventura informed Stepp that he had murdered somebody, Stepp said.
“I repeated the question and asked him again: ‘What were you doing?’” Stepp said. “The same response: ‘I murdered someone.”
Following Stepp’s testimony, Peter Wagner, “Criminalist” for Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations Criminalistics Laboratory took the stand.
Wagner took photos of the entire crime scene in Perry, including both the inside and outside of the work.
Photos from the scene were presented to jury, including detailed shots of the victims and several locations throughout the 802 Sixth Street residence.
Wagner later was asked to show jury members the machete found in the incident.
Dallas County Attorney Sean Wieser asked Wagner about the condition of the machete.
“I would not say it was in good condition,” Wagner said. “It seems to be dull, and the blade is obviously curved,” Wagner said.
The final testimony of the day came from Scott Stocksleger, an employee of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations Criminalistics Laboratory, specializing in Forensic DNA Testing.
Seventy-five items were presented to Stocksleger, but only thirteen items were tested. Stocksleger said it is common to take a few amount of items due to time constraints.
The lab found a mixture of both Hernandez-Ventura’s and Barraza’s DNA on Hernandez-Ventura’s left heel. On the right heel, the DNA profile of Leake was found on Hernandez-Ventura.
The machete was investigated, finding traits of both Hernandez-Ventura and Jimenez on the handle.
“At least three people, if not more, were found on that sample,” Stocksleger said, referring to DNA found on the tip of the machete.
Stocksleger reminded the court that there is limitations, however. Stocksleger mentioned an example of “fingerprint testing,” regarding a potential scenario where more than four people put their finger on the same spot.
“The same goes for DNA,” Stocksleger said, mentioning how the number of people present in a sample plays a role in how the test is determined.
Kevin Soenksen, Sgt. for the Morrison Police Department, and Michael Rowe, Special Agent with the Iowa Department of Public Safety, also took the stand during Wednesday’s trial.