On Monday, March 20, testimonials were given by two medical experts who worked on the victims of the late October murder, as well as a testimony from accused Carlos Marlo Hernandez-Ventura and a Witness Rebuttal by Daniel Leake. The State of Iowa has accused Carlos Marlo Hernandez-Ventura of three counts of first degree murder for the deaths of Lourdes Flor De Leake, 34, Melany Elizabeth Barraza, 14, and Juan Jimenez, 78.
Defense Attorney Jill Eimermann called Carlos Marlo Hernandez-Ventura to the stand to testify.
Hernandez-Ventura, through a translator, revealed that his education amounted to a sixth grade level. He also listed family members in the Virginia and El Salvador area, including a two-year-old son and a seven-year-old daughter in El Salvador.
Defense Attorney Eimermann asked Hernandez-Ventura to describe Friday, Oct. 28, the evening before the Oct. 29 crime took place.
“I was outside of the house on the steps,” Hernandez-Ventura began. “Juan was inside and the door was closed. So I was sitting outside and Daniel arrived. He asked me if Flor was here and I told him no.”
Before Hernandez-Ventura continued his explanation, Defense Attorney Sean Wieser requested the explanation be labeled as ‘hearsay.’
“The statements being made are hearsay,” Judge Paul Huscher said. “They are not considered staples for the truth of the statement.”
According to Hernandez-Ventura, Daniel Leake got out of his car to speak with him after hearing that Lourdes Leake was not present.
“What he said to me: ‘You have to kill Flor, Melany, and Juan,” Hernandez-Ventura said. “So then I got very scared and I told him I cannot do something like that; I do not have any problems with Flor or with them.”
During the Witness Rebuttal, the State of Iowa called Daniel Leake to the stand. Daniel Leake denied speaking with Hernandez-Ventura outside of the Perry residence on Friday, Oct. 29.
Later, during Daniel Leake’s cross-examination, Defense Attorney Adams presented an audio clip of an interview conducted between a DCI agent and Daniel Leake.
Daniel Leake informed the officer during the interview that he made a stop at the house twice around 6:30 p.m. and roughly 7:50 p.m.
Defense Attorney Adams asked Daniel Leake if he had spoken to Hernandez-Ventura in Spanish that evening. Daniel Leake said “yes.”
After the cross-examination, Dallas County Attorney asked Daniel Leake if his memory was as sufficient as it was six months prior.
“You’re doing your best to testify to your recollection today, is that correct?” Erica Clark from the Dallas County Attorney’s Office asked Daniel Leake.
Daniel Leake said yes.
Throughout Hernandez-Ventura’s testimony, he claimed the crime was done out of character, driven by fear.
Hernandez-Ventura became visibly emotional after reviewing a close-up photo taken from the Medical Examiner of then-girlfriend Lourdes Flor De Leake.
“What I did was because of the things Daniel had told me,” Hernandez-Ventura said. “I never did something that came from me or because I had thought it.”
“Never in my life had I ever done such a thing,” Hernandez-Ventura said.
Defense Attorney Eimermann asked Hernandez-Ventura why a machete was the choice of weapon.
“Well, it was the only thing that was there,” Hernandez-Ventura said.
During the cross-examination, Dallas County Attorney Wieser revisited the topic of the machete, asking Hernandez-Ventura if he believed he would be traced back to the machete after leaving the weapon at the Perry residence.
“As I have said, I never thought of doing those things,” Hernandez-Ventura said. “Had I thought about it, I would have taken them (victims) away or I would have done something, but I didn’t know what to do – I didn’t think about it.”
Forensic Pathologist and State Medical Examiner, Dennis Klein, described the amount of damage done to the victims earlier in Monday’s trial.
Both Lourdes Flor De Leake and Melany Barraza’s cause of death occurred from ‘multiple sharp-force injuries.’ Lourdes Leake received forty ‘sharp force’ injuries, including seventeen to the scalp and face, while Barraza received thirty-seven ‘sharp force’ injuries, including nine injuries to the neck. State Medical Examiner Klein identified the two deaths as a manner of a ‘Homicide.’
During the cross examination, Dallas County Attorney Wieser gave Hernandez-Ventura physical copies of the images the State Medical Examiner took of the victims. Hernandez-Ventura began to cry when he reviewed the images of then-girlfriend Lourdes Leake’s body.
“Had it been up to me, I would never have done such a thing,” Hernandez-Ventura later told Dallas County Attorney Wieser. “It was not a decision; I did it out of fear.”
Upon Jimenez’s passing, State Medical Examiner Klein was able to examine and form a conclusion on his cause of death. Jimenez’ death occurred from “complications of sharp force injuries to the head,” with a manner of ‘Homicide.’ Jimenez received fifteen sharp force injuries, including seven on the face and scalp.
Hernandez-Ventura told the court he cared very much about all three victims.
The first witness called to the stand by the State was General and Trauma Surgeon, Carlos Pelaez. Pelaez was the first doctor who operated on Juan Jimenez, he later acted as an interpreter for the Spanish-speaking family members of Jimenez.
Dallas County Attorney Clark asked Pelaez if Jimenez ever recovered from his initial critical care state.
“He never got out of the critical state, eventually, his neurological exam was very poor,” Pelaez. “At one point he was able to follow very simple commands but it was not sustained.”
Pelaez described the change in lifestyle Jimenez would face upon living: a breathing tube, a feeding tube, and full dependence of self-care from a nursing home facility.
This was not the lifestyle Jimenez would want, Pelaez learned from family members. He was later taken off of life support.
Defense Attorney Eimermann asked Hernandez-Ventura to describe Saturday, Oct. 29, the day of the crime.
Hernandez-Ventura spoke of fear.
“The following day, while I had been thinking the entire night about the things that I had did, anyone can say, ‘How come you didn’t make the decision to go to the police, or not to do that?’” Hernandez-Ventura said. “But it is different when you are living that and you think about all of the things that have been said to you.”
“The nerves were controlling me and took over,” Hernandez-Ventura said.
The evidence and witnesses for this trial have been closed.