ST. PAUL, Minn. – The burglary and assault convictions of a Mower County man have been thrown out.
37-year-old Daniel Irlas of Lyle was convicted of 1st degree burglary, 2nd degree assault and 5th degree assault for his role in an attack on a man in Austin on December 26, 2015. The victim was beaten with a pipe wrench and was stabbed in the stomach and near his heart.
Irlas was found guilty after a co-defendant, Enresto Salinas, reached a plea deal with the prosecution and testified against him. Salinas pleaded guilty to 1st degree burglary and 2nd degree assault and received 67 months in prison. A jury found Irlas guilty and he was sentenced to 10 years behind bars.
However, Irlas appealed that conviction because after Salinas answered a few preliminary questions on the stand, he then repeatedly refused to answer any more and claimed he was invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The prosecution wound up reading the details in Salinas’ plea agreement to the jury.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals has now ruled that move was improper, reversed Irlas’ conviction and remanded him for a new trial. The Court says that while Salinas did not technically have the right to invoke the Fifth Amendment, due to his plea agreement with the prosecution, his refusal to answer substantive questions and the reading of his plea agreement instead effectively denied Irlas his constitutional right to confront his accuser.