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Man Who Left Country After Fatal 2010 Crash Sent to State Prison

January 25, 2018

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

Nelio Sotomayor-Sanchez
Nelio Sotomayor-Sanchez

A Peruvian man who killed a Bucks County woman in a 2010 head-on collision before returning to South America was sentenced this week to serve 18 months to five years in state prison.

Nelio Sotomayor-Sanchez, 47, pleaded guilty to one count of homicide by vehicle Monday for the crash that killed 55-year-old Sheree Maillie of Newtown Township.

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

Because of that long absence, Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Rea B. Boylan imposed an aggravated-range sentence in a crime for which state sentencing guidelines prescribed three to 12 months in the standard range.

The harsher sentence was warranted, Boylan said, because “he left this country, making himself unavailable, without determining whether these matters had been resolved. And he knew that someone had died.”

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

Deputy District Attorney Robert D. James, who prosecuted the case, said the defendant became impatient with slow-moving vehicles ahead of him and illegally crossed a double-yellow line to pass them, striking Maillie’s oncoming vehicle.

James said that Sotomayor-Sanchez was driving without a valid license at the time, that he failed to call 911 or assist the victim, and that he had fled the country knowing he was the subject of a criminal investigation.

His arrest last year began a lengthy extradition process involving James, federal officials and the Peruvian government. Sotomayor-Sanchez finally was returned to the United States in November.

James said that Peruvian officials required, as a condition of the extradition, that the defendant be prosecuted only for the lead charge against him – homicide by vehicle. Several lesser charges brought against Sotomayor-Sanchez have no equivalents in Peru’s criminal statutes, he said.

The victim’s children lashed out at Sotomayor-Sanchez in court. Julie Maillie said “no amount of justice” could atone for her mother’s suffering, “what she thought, when she felt, what she knew” at the time of the crash. “There are no words.”

Her brother, Michael Maillie, said the defendant “fled like the coward scumbag that he is.”  Boylan at that point interrupted, saying his language was inappropriate for the courtroom.

“The man killed my mother,” Maillie responded. “I called him a name. We’re not exactly even.”

Sotomayor-Sanchez, who was living with his wife and two children at the time of the crash, said he understands that he will be deported to Peru after serving his sentence.

He admitted having received a crash report from the Middletown Township Police Department detailing his culpability in Maillie’s death prior to leaving the country. But he told Boylan that he was unaware of any criminal charges against him at the time he departed.

Sotomayor-Sanchez maintained that he left the country to seek surgery for his injuries in Peru under his father’s government-funded medical insurance. He said he had been unable to assist Maillie at the crash scene because his own injured leg collapsed beneath him when he tried to stand.

“From the day the accident occurred, I have not stopped thinking of her,” Sotomayor-Sanchez said through an interpreter. “I am Catholic and … she is always in my prayers. Wherever she is, she knows that I have always asked for forgiveness in my prayers.”

His attorney, Senior Chief Deputy Public Defender Deborah A. Weinman, argued for leniency, saying the defendant had no criminal record and that speeding or drinking played no role in the crash.

“That split-second decision” to pass illegally “is the extent of his criminal conduct in this matter,” Weinman said. “It was a reckless act [that] resulted in catastrophic consequences.”

James successfully argued, however, that Sotomayor-Sanchez deserved an aggravated sentence because of his disappearance.

“He was never coming back. He was not going to try to make this family whole again,” the prosecutor told Boylan. “He left the Maillies high and dry.”

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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