A Jacksonville man accused of impregnating and then killing his teenage niece has been found guilty of first-degree murder.
Additionally, Johnathan Quiles, 38, was found guilty of sexually abusing and murdering the teenager's unborn child after a Florida jury deliberated for about an hour.
Iyana Sawyer was 16 when she disappeared in 2018. Although her body was never found, a jury concluded that Quiles killed her and her unborn child sometime in December of that year, according to PEOPLE.
Ms. Sawyer was last seen on December 19, 2018. She left the high school during her lunch period and traveled to a junkyard where Quiles was working at the time, according to News4JAX.
Police believe Quiles killed the girl, dumped her body in a dumpster and hid or destroyed it in a landfill.
Quiles' lawyers argued that the girl was likely still alive and sought to bar prosecutors from using the word “victim” to describe Ms. Sawyer.
But after six days of prosecutors piling up evidence against Quiles — including other family members who testified that he sexually assaulted him and sent them inappropriate messages — the jury returned a guilty verdict.
Prosecutors' star player was Quiles' own brother, Joseph, who says Quiles told him he murdered the girl and dumped her body.
“He said he took the young lady and made her sit in a vehicle and wait for her, he tried to strangle her, it didn't work, he couldn't stomach it, so he shot her in the chest. And he put the body in a dumpster and wrecked the vehicle,” Joseph Quiles said.
Quiles reportedly feared he would be estranged from his family if the girl gave birth to their child.
The state wants to see Quiles sentenced to death. The jury will reconvene Monday to begin the sentencing phase.
Members of Ms Sawyers' family said they were pleased with the verdict.
“Today, a nearly 5-year nightmare ends with another measure of justice,” said John Phillips, an attorney representing the family. “Thank you to the jury, law enforcement and the judge, and to all of our friends and family who reached out when we needed it most. Jonathan Quiles has now been found guilty of murder and will go back before a jury to determine his fate on earth, but he chose to end Iyana's young life. It was predatory and the jury saw it with ease. We are grateful. Please keep our family in your prayers. Thank you from the family of Iyana Sawyer.”