Death penalty sought for man charged with killing pregnant niece

Johnathan Quiles is accused of impregnating & murdering 16-year-old Iyana Sawyer

By Garrett Pelican - Digital executive producer

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Johnathan Quiles and family photo of Iyana Sawyer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - State Attorney Melissa Nelson intends to seek the death penalty for a Jacksonville man suspected of impregnating and murdering his teenage niece.

At Thursday’s arraignment, Johnathan Quiles pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Iyana Sawyer and her unborn child. He also pleaded not guilty to sexual battery.

Quiles, 34, is being held without bond at the Duval County jail. He will be represented by attorney Robert Davis, who took over after the Public Defender’s Office withdrew from the case.

Sawyer, 16, was five months pregnant when she went missing. She has not been seen since leaving Terry Parker High School on Dec. 19. To this day, police have been unable to find her remains. 

Authorities suspect Quiles shot Sawyer either Dec. 19 or Dec. 20, killing the teen and her unborn child. He has maintained his innocence all along, saying he had nothing to do with his niece’s disappearance.

Quiles has been in jail since January after his arrest on a sexual battery charge. The arrest stems from allegations that the 34-year-old raped a teenage relative while she babysat his 3-year-old daughter.

He is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 17 for a pretrial hearing.

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