By Denise Hnytka (EL DORADO, Kan.)
A Butler County jury found Israel Mireles guilty Friday afternoon. He was convicted of the charges of capital murder and rape.
Shortly after the verdict was read, the judge threw out the sodomy charge. That charge is included in the Capital Murder count, and he cannot be convicted of both.
Sentencing is set for next month.
In the last day of testimony, Mireles took the stand in his own defense. He was hoping to convince the jury he did not kill Emily Sander. Instead, he stuck by his story that someone else killed her while he was out for a drive.
He claimed he came back to his motel room, found Emily's body and saw the bloody scene. He says he panicked and decided to put her body in the trunk of his car and leave her on the side of a road.
"Why didn't you call the police?" asked his attorney, Melanie Freeman Johnson. "I don't know why. I was scared. I figured the first person they would blame was me," answered Mireles.
The prosecution argued that all evidence pointed to him, from the murder weapon to the DNA evidence. It took a jury a little more than an hour to reach its decision.
Emily Sander's grandfather Clem Sander said he was relived to have justice.
"I cried," he said. "It was sad. But that's what we wanted to hear, and thank God for good news and a good verdict."
Eyewitness News Reporter Denise Hnytka was in the courtroom for day three of the Israel Mireles trial. Replay her Live Interactive Blog below.
Note: Some testimony and displays in this trial may be considered graphic, while we will make every effort not to show graphic images from the courtroom, there is no guarantee. The audio from the courtroom is unedited.