Sex Crimes

Prosecutor describes commune leader's 15-year brutal reign at murder trial in Wichita

  • Daniel Perez sits in a Sedgwick County courtroom during the first day of his murder trial on Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015 in Wichita, Kan.  Perez, 55, is charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the 2003 drowning death of 26-year-old Patricia Hughes at Angels’ Landing, the group's compound in the Wichita suburb of Valley Center. He is also is charged with lying on life insurance applications, rape, sodomy, criminal threat, making false statements on credit applications and sexual exploitation of a child.  (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Travis Heying)

    Daniel Perez sits in a Sedgwick County courtroom during the first day of his murder trial on Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015 in Wichita, Kan. Perez, 55, is charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the 2003 drowning death of 26-year-old Patricia Hughes at Angels’ Landing, the group's compound in the Wichita suburb of Valley Center. He is also is charged with lying on life insurance applications, rape, sodomy, criminal threat, making false statements on credit applications and sexual exploitation of a child. (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Travis Heying)  (The Associated Press)

  • Daniel Perez enters a Sedgwick County courtroom during the first day of his murder trial on Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015 in Wichita, Kan.  Perez, 55, is charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the 2003 drowning death of 26-year-old Patricia Hughes at Angels’ Landing, the group's compound in the Wichita suburb of Valley Center. He is also is charged with lying on life insurance applications, rape, sodomy, criminal threat, making false statements on credit applications and sexual exploitation of a child.  (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Travis Heying)

    Daniel Perez enters a Sedgwick County courtroom during the first day of his murder trial on Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015 in Wichita, Kan. Perez, 55, is charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the 2003 drowning death of 26-year-old Patricia Hughes at Angels’ Landing, the group's compound in the Wichita suburb of Valley Center. He is also is charged with lying on life insurance applications, rape, sodomy, criminal threat, making false statements on credit applications and sexual exploitation of a child. (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Travis Heying)  (The Associated Press)

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.