A Texas man accused of murdering his friend in Harris County in March 2021 was released on a $100,000 bond, then picked up a charge for unlawfully carrying a weapon in November 2022 and was released on bond again, this time for $10,000, according to court records.
Now, family members of the victim who 20-year-old James Sotelo allegedly shot and killed are wondering why the accused murderer was ever let out on bond in the first place.
“That is what is bothering us the most,” April Wright, the mother of 17-year-old victim Corey Thompson Jr., told Fox 26 Houston. “This kid has a blatant disrespect for the law for the court he’s going through, and he’s still allowed to go home and be with his family. My son is never allowed to come home, and this kid is still out in the community.”
Sotelo allegedly shot and killed Thompson on March 20, 2021. He was also charged with aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury for shooting his brother in the same incident, but his brother survived.
Sotelo allegedly admitted to a deputy on the scene that he shot Thompson, according to a criminal complaint.
“I shot him. He tried to get my gun and I shot him,” the criminal complaint reads.
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There was an “entry wound on the backside” of Thompson’s neck and “multiple gunshot wounds to the back of Corey Thompson’s head,” according to the complaint.
Sotelo’s brother was in a separate room during the shooting and bullets that struck him appeared to come through the wall, the complaint said.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office requested a $150,000 bond in the murder case, but Judge Josh Hill (D) allowed him to post a $100,000 bond.
Over a year later in November 2022, Sotelo was charged with unlawful carrying of a weapon in Montgomery County, which neighbors Harris County to the north. He was released on a $10,000 bond in that case, according to court records.
Days after that incident, the Harris County District Attorney filed to revoke his bond in the murder case, but Sotelo was instead ordered to go on 24/7 house arrest.
An attorney listed in court records for Sotelo did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
Andy Kahan, the director of victim services for Crime Stoppers Houston, expressed frustration about the way the criminal justice system handles suspected violent offenders.
“If you’re on bond for murder and charged with having a firearm a gun that should be an automatic you go back to jail to see what happens with those cases, but that’s not happened,” Kahan told Fox 26 Houston. “So now he’s on bond in 2 different counties, for me it’s a disaster waiting to happen.”