Irlas gets retrial after appeals court issues reversal; Initial case found to have violated confrontation clause

Published 10:39 am Thursday, March 16, 2017



A man sentenced to 10 years prison in 2015 is back in Mower County Court is in the early stages of a new trial after the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed his conviction.

Daniel Irlas, 37, appeared in court Wednesday for a first appearance and is next scheduled to appear in court March 30.

In 2015, Irlas was sentenced to 10 years in prison for felony first-degree burglary/assault with a dangerous weapon, and a concurrent 45 months for felony second-degree burglary with a dangerous weapon. The charges stem from the stabbing of a 51-year-old man in the 1000 block of Fifth Street Northeast on Dec. 26, 2014.

Email newsletter signup

But the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed his conviction on burglary charges and remanded the case back to Mower County District Court for a new trial.

The appellate court found that Irlas had his rights violated under the confrontation clause after a witness invoked the Fifth Amendment during his trial.

According to the court complaint, the victim stepped into a fight Irlas had with his girlfriend in the early morning hours of Dec. 26, 2014, at a friend’s house because the victim didn’t like Irlas getting physical with a woman. Irlas later told police he went to the home to collect $400 from the friend, and took a dog and a small lock box as payment.

Irlas, said in the report, stole an iPod and a speaker and punched the victim.

Irlas allegedly then went to the home where the victim was at about 4:45 a.m. on the 26th. When the victim answered the door, Irlas and two unidentified men assaulted and stabbed him, according to two witnesses at the home who went to get help.

Police determined that one of his companions was Ernesto Angel Salinas of Austin. According to the complaint, Salinas’ mother, after talking to detectives, alleged the third suspect was Willie James Britten III and claimed he was with Irlas and Salinas at the time of the assault.

The victim suffered a broken nose, two stab wounds to the torso, including one that pierced his diaphragm and a contusion on his left ear.

Salinas eventually entered a guilty plea on reduced charges, with the understanding he would testify at Irlas’ trial. His testimony during the guilty plea implicated both Irlas and Britten as having participated in the assault.

The court agreed with Irlas’ defense who argued that since Salinas had invoked the Fifth Amendment privilege and when it was paired with Salinas’ absence from court when his plea transcript was entered as evidence, the confrontation clause was violated. That clause assures a defendant a chance to face his accuser in court.