Sonya Murillo, charged with child sexual exploitation, held without bond

MARFA — Sonya Murillo, a Marfa resident arrested this month for sexual exploitation of children, will be detained without bond for the remainder of court proceedings.

At a detention hearing last week, held in the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Alpine, Murillo waived her right to a preliminary hearing, and declined to contest a motion from the U.S. Attorney’s Office to have her held without bond on the grounds that she posed a flight risk and a danger to the community.

Judge David B. Fannin ordered Murillo held without bond, noting “there are no conditions of release that will reasonably assure the appearance of the Defendant.”

Bart Medley, Murillo’s attorney, declined to comment on the decision to waive the detention hearing. Murillo is currently being held in the West Texas Detention Facility in Sierra Blanca. 

The case will now be heard by a federal grand jury, which will decide whether or not to indict Murillo. If Murillo is indicted, she can either enter a guilty plea or go to trial. 

Murillo was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Marfa on June 7, according to a Presidio County Sheriff’s Office arrest report, after the filing of a criminal complaint by a Texas Department of Public Safety investigator alleging Murillo committed sexual exploitation of children.   

While “conducting a forensic review of a cell phone from a different child pornography investigation in Marfa,” the complaint states, investigators discovered video evidence of Murillo performing sexual acts on a young child. The videos — at least eight of them in total — show Murillo’s face in full view, plus a distinctive tattoo on her shoulder, per court records.

A previous romantic partner of Murillo’s, Marfa resident Patricio Javier “P.J.” Serrano, was arrested in May on child pornography charges. Investigators have not responded to requests for comment on whether or not the cases are related. Serrano is scheduled to be arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge David Fannin on Thursday at the United States District Courthouse in Pecos.

Murillo, 32, worked as a property manager and substitute teacher at Marfa ISD. Interim Superintendent Arturo Alferez said to his knowledge no law enforcement officials had been in contact with the district regarding the ongoing investigation. Alferez declined to comment further.