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Suspect in Fatal 2010 Crash Returns from Peru for Homicide Trial

November 21, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Robert D. James, 215.348.6332, rdjames@buckscounty.org

Nelio Sotomayor
     Nelio Sotomayor

Almost seven years after 55-year-old Sheree Maillie died in a head-on collision, the man accused of killing the Newtown Township woman was brought back to the United States today to face vehicular homicide charges.

Nelio Sotomayor, 46, who flew to South America one day after charges were filed in February 2011, was ordered held on $5 million by Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Diane E. Gibbons.

“I find that he is an extreme flight risk,” Gibbons said during Sotomayor’s arraignment this afternoon in Doylestown.

The defendant, appearing weary from his long journey from Peru, stood before Gibbons in a University of Florida sweatshirt, politely answering her questions through an interpreter. He acknowledged having no family or employment ties to this area, saying he only worked odd jobs when he lived in the United States.

Gibbons ordered Sotomayor, a citizen of Peru, to surrender his passport and told him to find a lawyer. She set a tentative trial date of Dec. 11 on charges of homicide by vehicle, accidents involving death while not properly licensed, involuntary manslaughter and other related offenses.

“The trial has been delayed for an extraordinary period of time,” the judge said as Maillie’s husband and children sat looking on quietly in the courtroom.

Maillie, a teacher’s aide at Newtown Middle School, died Dec. 23, 2010, when a Volkswagen Beetle driven by Sotomayor struck her PT Cruiser head-on on Woodbourne Road in Middletown Township.

Authorities allege that Sotomayor was passing another vehicle illegally across a double-yellow line when he struck Maillie’s car, and that he had no valid driver’s license at the time.

On Feb. 26, 2011, one day after charges were filed, Sotomayor flew from Florida, where he was recovering from injuries, to South America. He remained a fugitive until Peruvian officials arrested him in January 2017.

A lengthy extradition process ensued, ending today with Sotomayor arriving at Philadelphia International Airport in the custody of U.S. Marshals. Officers from the Middletown Township Police Department then drove him to the Bucks County Justice Center in Doylestown, where Sotomayor was arraigned before Gibbons.

“We have successfully, after great effort, brought back a foreign citizen to Pennsylvania, to Bucks County, to face justice for a homicide by vehicle,” Bucks County District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub told reporters after the hearing.

“There’s a saying: Justice delayed is justice denied,” Weintraub said. “That will not be the result here in this case. We seek justice for our victims, in this case for Sherrie Maillie, no matter how far we have to go to bring a defendant back.”

Jim Christie, supervisory special agent for the FBI in Fort Washington, acknowledged the help of a long list of domestic and Peruvian agencies that cooperated in bringing Sotomayor back to the United States. They included the Middletown Township Police Department, the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Department of Justice, Interpol in Washington and Peru, the General Secretariat of Peru, Homeland Security Investigations, the Peruvian National Police, Migraciaones Peru [Immigration], Ministerio Publico del Peru [Public Ministry of Peru], Fiscalia de la Nacion [National Prosecutor] and the International Judicial Cooperation Unit.

“It’s a very long process,” Christie said. “Obviously, the wheels of justice sometimes turn very slowly.”

Christie said the FBI, after obtaining a federal arrest warrant for Sotomayor in 2011, received investigative leads about his whereabouts in Peru by 2014. That began a long, cooperative effort to obtain an arrest warrant recognized by Peruvian officials, ultimately resulting in Sotomayor’s arrest in January.

“We are in lockstep with our counterparts in Peru,” Christie said. “It was a joint operation to make this happen.”

The case is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Robert D. James, chief of the District Attorney’s Homicide by Vehicle Division.

Approved for release by Robert D. James, Deputy District Attorney.

Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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