• 46°

$1 million bond set for man accused in Townsend murder

By John Wright

Courtesy Murray Ledger & Times

A man facing charges in connection to a Calloway County murder case made his first court appearance Monday, March 29.

Julius Sotomayor, 22, of Almo, came before Calloway District Judge Randall Hutchens Monday morning for his arraignment. Sotomayor is charged with murder for his alleged role in the death of a Murray State University student, Sarah Townsend, 21, of Farmville, whose body was discovered Friday morning in a ditch along Fox Road near the intersection of McCuiston Drive, which is close to the Cherry Corner community southeast of Murray.

Hutchens explained to Sotomayor that the murder charge is a Class A felony in Kentucky that carries a possible prison sentence of 20 years to life. Sotomayor is also charged with theft by unlawful taking over $500 but under $10,000, as well as tampering with physical evidence. Hutchens explained that both of those are Class D felonies and can bring one to five years in state prison.

Hutchens set Sotomayor’s bond at $1 million cash and also set a preliminary hearing for 9 a.m. April 7 in Calloway District Court. A preliminary hearing is the next step in the judicial process of a case and is designed to give a judge the opportunity to determine if there is enough probable cause to move a case forward.

If enough probable cause is determined to exist, the next step would be handing the case over to a grand jury, which also would weigh evidence and determine if enough exists to issue an indictment. With an indictment, the case would then move into Calloway Circuit Court.

Under Kentucky law, a preliminary hearing must be set for within 10 days of a defendant’s arraignment.

The only times Sotomayor spoke Monday were to give basic personal information, such as birthdate and address, as well as to address his situation as far as an attorney representing him.

He told the judge that, while he has submitted an application for a public defender, it is believed that his mother is in the process of hiring a private attorney.

“And that’s fine with me,” Hutchens said in return. “But I want to make sure you have a lawyer for the next time that I see you.”

Hutchens then said that he will take the action of appointing a public defender for the defendant for now.

Court records indicate that Sotomayor knew the victim. The uniform citation for the case describes the victim’s relationship to the offender as “friend.”

Those records also show that it is believed the crime occurred at about 11:30 p.m. Thursday. Sotomayor was arrested at 4 a.m. Saturday.

Kentucky State Police said over the weekend that a key piece to its investigation was discovering that Townsend’s vehicle — a Toyota Camry — was spotted on surveillance cameras in the state of Georgia sometime after the alleged crime was to have occurred. KSP said that information it obtained indicated that Sotomayor has ties to Georgia.

KSP said that a car, believed to be Townsend’s, was found early Saturday morning near Sotomayor’s home.

Individuals facing charges are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.