On Thursday, March 16, the State of Iowa brought out more witnesses involving the Oct. 29 murders of three Perry residents. The State of Iowa has accused Carlos Marlo Hernandez-Ventura of three counts of first degree murders for the deaths of Lourdes Flor De Leake, 34, Melany Elizabeth Barraza, 14, and Juan Jimenez, 78.
The weapon found at the scene of the crime was a machete.
Iowa Department of Public Safety Special Agent, Ryan Kedley, took the stand during Thursday’s trial. Kedley requested a translator before the hospital bed interview in Morrison after hearing of a potential language barrier.
Iowa State Patrol Sgt. David Saldivar acted as a translator while Hernandez-Ventura was interviewed by Kedley at the Morrison Community Hospital in Morrison, Illinois.
Hernandez-Ventura was originally taken to the Morrison County Hospital after he knocked on the door of the Morrison Police Department.
Once Saldivar arrived, Hernandez-Ventura was read his Miranda rights in Spanish, again, after Kedley’s request.
“I began the interview by just indicating that I had been told he expressed interest in speaking with law enforcement through a translator, and basically asked him an open question in terms 0f what he wished to speak about,” Kedley said. “Through that question, he gave me the additional indication of the assaults which occurred.”
Dallas County Attorney Sean Wieser asked Saldivar during his testimony whether or not Hernandez-Ventura admitted specifics regarding the crime, Saldivar said he did.
“He said he killed three people in the house he lived in,” Saldivar said. “He said he killed Flor first, then he went and killed Juan next, and then he killed a very young female, if I recall right – Melany.”
Saldivar relayed Hernandez-Ventura’s confession in Spanish to Special Agent Kedley in English.
According to Saldivar, Hernandez-Ventura alleged that Daniel Leake approached him the night before.
“On Friday night, he had talked to a gentleman by the name of Daniel, and that Daniel had instructed him to kill the people that were aware of his narcotic sales,” Saldivar said.
Defense Attorney Michael Adams asked Saldivar what instructions Daniel Leake allegedly gave Hernandez-Ventura.
“If I recall correctly, Daniel had talked to him about having family in Virginia and that if he didn’t kill these people that knew about the narcotics sales, then we would kill him and his family members,” Saldivar said.
Adams asked Saldivar if Hernandez-Ventura admitted to being scared by Daniel Leake’s alleged threat. Saldivar said yes.
“And that’s why he cried all night because of what he had to do,” Adams said.
Saldivar said correct.
Hernandez-Ventura provided Saldivar with more details from the October evening.
He approached Lourdes Leake in their shared bedroom first.
“He said he couldn’t do it while they were facing each other,” Saldivar said on stand. “When she was facing away, he used a machete to attack from the back.”
Hernandez-Ventura described Lourdes Leake’s reaction to being struck with the machete to Saldivar.
“He stated he recalls Flor saying, something along the lines of – this isn’t verbatim,” Saldivar said. “Flor raised her hands up and said, ‘Why are you doing this? I love you.’”
Saldivar informed the court that Hernandez-Ventura confessed to killing each victim from the back.
Before Hernandez-Ventura left the house, he walked back inside to retrieve his shoes from the room Lourdes Leake was in.
Hernandez-Ventura was barefoot during the slayings.
Kedley then stepped out mid-interview to relay the information to the Perry Police Department.
Both Kedley and Saldivar mentioned Hernandez-Ventura was calm and cooperative. throughout the duration of the interview.
Dallas County Attorney Wieser asked Saldivar if Hernandez-Ventura at some point in the interview mentioned that he loved Flor (Leake).
“He did,” Saldivar said.
Chris Swigart, DCI Special Agent, took the stand. Swigart conducted interviews with Daniel Leake at the Perry Police Department.
Daniel Leake was informed by Swigart that his wife was deceased.
During the cross-examination, Defense Attorney Adams asked Swigart if Daniel Leake asked how Lourdes was killed.
“No, he didn’t,” Swigart said.
More testimonials were given from the following individuals: Steven Tvrdik, Criminalist for DCI, Jeremiah Jones, Surgery Resident at Methodist Hospital in Des Moines, Jeffrey Dumermuth, Part-Time Death Investigator for the Dallas County.
The trial is anticipated to finish by Tuesday, Mar. 21.