New trial date set for Irlas

Published 10:12 am Friday, March 31, 2017

Daniel Irlas

Daniel Irlas

An Austin man, whose conviction on 2014 burglary charges was reversed by the state’s appellate court, now has a trial date on a felony assault charge, according to court documents.

Daniel Irlas will face the charge during a jury trial at 9 a.m. on May 15 in Mower County District Court.

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

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The higher court claimed a clause that assures a defendant the chance to face his accuser in court was violated.

All previous convictions were vacated in order for a new trial to begin. According to records, only one charge — second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon — has been filed.

The appellate court found that Irlas, 37, had his rights violated under the confrontation clause after a witness invoked the Fifth Amendment during his trial.

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.

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 allegedly 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 Ernesto 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.

— Jason Schoonover contributed to this report.