Elma man found guilty of murder, abuse of corpse
(ABC 6 News) – A jury found an Elma man guilty of murdering and abusing the corpse of another Iowa man in October 2022.
After three hours of deliberation, a jury unanimously found Sayvonne Jordan guilty of murder in the first degree and abusing the corpse of Jonathon Esparza.
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According to witness testimony, Jordan suspected Esparza of stealing methamphetamine he planned to sell.
In the closing arguments Wednesday, Nov. 8, the state outlined Esparza’s last days before he went missing, leaving before supper was made and a home improvement job for his girlfriend’s daughter was finished.
The defense called the crime an evil and malicious act, saying Jordan hoped that with no body, there would be no crime.
“We have a week’s worth of premeditation, deliberation, and the nature of the crime itself as well the very careful way in which the body was disposed and all evidence gotten rid of tells us this was an extremely premeditated crime,” Monty Platz, assistant attorney general argued.
The defense stated in their closing arguments that Jonathan Esparza had money issues and several overdue bills.
Esparza’s vehicle was also found abandoned in a ditch in November of 2022, while his remains were found in a “burn barrel” behind Jordan’s Elma home in 2023.
Police who searched Jordan’s vehicles allegedly found marijuana, but no meth or related products, the defense argued.
Furthermore, the defense claimed that if Jordan had dismembered Esparza’s body at his home, there would have been significantly more physical evidence of the violence in Jordan’s home.
“And the unanswered question is where?” defense attorney Nichole Watt stated. “The state is saying the basement — the state has also made clear how entirely gruesome this would be. You just can’t just chop up a body and not have blood and tissue bits all over this basement.”
After the guilty verdict was read, Esparza’s family hugged and cried.
Esparza’s father, who traveled from Texas for the trial, said the man described in court was not the son he knew.
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Henry Esparza had visited Jonathan on his 30th birthday, not knowing it would be the last time he saw his son alive.
“I got to hug my son one — and give him a kiss one last time, not knowing that this would ever happen,” Henry Esparza said. “I wanted him to know that distance was never going to be a factor, and I told him how much I loved him and I can go to my grave knowing that.”
Henry Esparza said that his son loved his pets and the outdoors, and had a great laugh and sense of humor.
Sayvonne Jordan will be sentenced December 18th.
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(ABC 6 News) – Sayvonne Jordan, the Elma man accused of murdering a Northern Iowa man and dismembering his corpse, was found guilty of 1st-degree murder and abuse of a corpse in Howard County Court Wednesday, Nov. 8.
On the night of October 20, 30-year-old Jonathan Esparza left his home in New Hampton, Iowa to visit a friend in Elma and was later reported missing, according to a missing person report.
On November 11, Esparza’s car was found abandoned.
Deputy Sheriff Investigator Richard Hollenbeck told ABC 6 News that witnesses led the sheriff’s department and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation to the home of Sayvonne Jordan, where investigators found human remains.
The court set Jordan’s sentencing date for Dec. 18.
ABC 6 News will update this story as more information is available.