WICHITA, Kan. – Prosecutors say a 55-year-old Kansas man accused of killing a member of his commune more than a decade ago was a brutal leader whose 15-year reign was marked by sexual violence and the deaths of six people.
Daniel Perez is charged with first-degree murder in the 2003 drowning death of Patricia Hughes at the group's compound in Valley Center.
During opening statements in his trial on Wednesday, Perez's attorney, Alice Osburn, told jurors her client did not kill Hughes and that all of the deaths at the commune were coincidental.
Osburn said the group shared $4 million in insurance payments from the dead members.
Perez also is accused of lying on life insurance applications, rape, sodomy, criminal threat, making false statements on credit applications and sexual exploitation of a child.