Teenager bound over for trial in murder case

2/24/2010

By RACHAEL GRAY

By RACHAEL GRAY

rgray@gctelegram.com

A Garden City man accused of raping, sodomizing and killing a Deerfield teen has been bound over for trial following a preliminary hearing Tuesday and today at the Finney County Courthouse. Joaquin De Anda, 18, is charged with first-degree murder, rape, aggravated and criminal sodomy in connection with the death of Julia Quintana, 16, Deerfield, whose body was found in a Dumpster on Dec. 16, 2008, in the west alley behind De Anda's former residence, 1009 N. Fourth St. in Garden City.

An arraignment has been set for March 31.

De Anda was 17 at the time of the crime and was re-certified as an adult this morning.

Judge Michael L. Quint said due to the severity of the crimes, De Anda would be considered an adult in court.

De Anda previously had been certified as an adult before prosecutors Linda Lobmeyer and Lora Ingels, assistant Finney County attorneys, dropped the criminal charges and re-filed in December, citing possible new findings and questions being raised in the case.

Melanie Freeman-Johnson, who previously was De Anda's lawyer, has been re-assigned to the case, Quint said.

Freeman-Johnson is a member of the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit. Prosecutors said early in the case they would not be seeking the death penalty.

De Anda appeared in court Tuesday and today with his now former attorney, Doug Spencer.

During the preliminary hearing, the court heard from law officials, experts and family and acquaintances of De Anda.

Through tears Tuesday, Margie Romero, De Anda's mother, testified that her son's behavior when questioned about Quintana led her to believe he may have known something about what happened to her.

De Anda was a former classmate of Quintana's at the New Outlook Academy, 1401 Jones Ave. Police said the two individuals were acquaintances at school.

Quintana's mother, Monica Espinoza, filed a missing-person report on Dec. 14, 2008, with the Kearny County Sheriff's Office and Garden City Police Department. Quintana initially was listed as a possible runaway.

Garden City police detectives Mark Johnson and Omar Mora, and Jeff Steele, Finney County sergeant of investigations, testified that on Dec. 16, 2008, De Anda's mother had told officials she may have information about Quintana.

Specifically, officials said Romero indicated Quintana's condition was "beyond medical help" and suggested that they look in the Dumpster in the west alley behind the residence at 1009 N. Fourth St. In later testimony, Romero told the court she didn't remember telling officials to look in the Dumpster, but said she did notice a change in De Anda's behavior after Quintana had been reported missing. She said his behavior alarmed her and led her to believe he may have been involved in Quintana's disappearance.

"There was something going on," she said, referring to De Anda's behavior.

Romero said she searched the home for signs of the girl, but found none.

She said she questioned her son about Quintana's welfare and whereabouts.

Romero said her son kept shrugging his shoulders and she was concerned with his answers.

Detective Mike Velasquez later testified that he had met with Romero on four separate occasions. During the interviews, Velasquez testified, Romero had told him she thought her son may have been involved in Quintana's death.

Romero said Tuesday that Quintana and her son had made plans to meet the day of Dec. 13, 2008. Romero said she had never been introduced to Quintana before but said Quintana had previously been to her house. Romero said she knew Quintana drove a white SUV.

Romero, De Anda, and Romero's boyfriend at the time were running errands when she dropped off De Anda to meet Quintana at the family's residence, 1009 N. Fourth St., Romero said.

She said when she returned from running errands, the white SUV was parked in front of the residence. Romero said she heard voices from De Anda's room in the basement.

Romero left for a while, and said when she came back the white SUV was gone.

In earlier testimony Tuesday, two of De Anda's peers testified De Anda had bragged about what he did to Quintana and said he had moved the white SUV after he had killed her.

Police found an abandoned white Pontiac Aztek SUV in the 300 block of Sixth Street near Finnup Park on Dec. 14, 2008.

Cruz Velasquez, 17, who was in the Juvenile Detention Center at the same time as De Anda, said De Anda had told him he choked Quintana to death and put her inside of a trash can.

Cruz Velasquez said De Anda told him he had raped Quintana, and De Anda seemed proud and was smiling when he spoke of the incident.

Similar testimony came from Cody Crouch, 21, who met De Anda while they both were in custody in Finney County. Crouch said De Anda had told him Quintana would still be alive if she would have consented to sex.

After Velasquez stepped down from the witness stand on Tuesday, he walked by De Anda and told him, "Sorry, man." De Anda told him it was all right, and a relative of Julia Quintana's who attended the hearing said, "You should be sorry for Julie."

Kathy Gill-Hoppel, director of the Sedgwick County sexual assault nurse examiners, testified that she examined Quintana's genitalia and found areas of bruising.

She said the bruising would have occurred while Quintana was alive because in order to bruise, the heart has to be pumping blood.

Gill-Hoppel said Quintana's injuries likely would have occurred 72 hours prior to examination. Gill-Hoppel conducted her exam on Dec. 17, 2008.

Testimony concluded today from Forensic Coroner Bamidele Adeagbo, who testified Quintana had died from asphyxiation. Adeagbo had examined the body the same day as Gill-Hoppel.

Earlier Tuesday morning, Valentin De Anda, Romero's father and De Anda's grandfather, testified on behalf of the defense and said De Anda, who lived with him for a while, never had been in any kind of trouble. He presented letters from schools in Colorado where De Anda previously had been a student that said De Anda was a good student.

During a cross examination, Lobmeyer asked about an unresolved criminal case in La Junta, Colo., where De Anda faces arson charges. Valentin De Anda said the case still is pending.

On April 3, 2008, De Anda was arrested by the La Junta Police Department on allegations of first-degree arson while he was a resident of La Junta. De Anda allegedly set fire to his house, according to an arrest affidavit. According to the affidavit, De Anda told his mother he started the fire because he was angry and also that he did not feel remorseful about damaging the property. De Anda allegedly started the fire by spraying cologne on a bed and lighting it, as well as setting clothes on fire.

The incident in Colorado came up in earlier court proceedings involving De Anda's mental health. In October 2009, Quint ruled De Anda competent to stand trial.

Dr. William Logan, who had testified in October that De Anda may suffer from disorganized schizophrenia, told the court Tuesday De Anda seems to be having a positive response to anti-psychotic medications, and only is having a mild side effect of restlessness in the lower extremities.

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