Judge sets $10M bond for second Venezuelan man accused of killing a 12-year-old Houston girl

HOUSTON (AP) — A second Venezuelan man living in the U.S. illegally and accused of killing a 12-year-old Houston girl was ordered on Tuesday to be held on a $10 million bond.

Johan Jose Martinez-Rangel, 22, is one of two men charged with capital murder in Jocelyn Nungaray’s death. The other is Franklin Jose Peña Ramos, 26.

State District Judge Josh Hill set the bond during a court hearing in which prosecutors said authorities found evidence on Martinez-Rangel’s cellphone that they allege showed he was trying to leave the country after police were looking for him following Jocelyn’s death.

Mario Madrid, a court-appointed attorney for Martinez-Rangel, did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment.

During a court hearing Monday, Hill also ordered that Peña be held on a $10 million bond.

Nungaray’s body was found June 17 in a shallow creek after police said she sneaked out of her nearby home the night before. She was strangled to death, according to the medical examiner. Prosecutors allege the men took off her pants, tied her up and killed her before throwing her body in the bayou.

She had disappeared during a walk to a convenience store, police said.

The two men are Venezuelan nationals who entered the country illegally, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Martinez-Rangel was apprehended by Border Patrol agents near El Paso on March 14 and Peña was apprehended on May 28, also near El Paso. The statement said it is unknown exactly when or where the men crossed the border. Both were released and given notices to appear in court at a later date.

Both Peña and Martinez-Rangel are now under immigration holds by federal authorities, meaning they would remain in custody even if they could post bond.

Nungaray’s funeral is set for Thursday in Houston.

___ A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that both suspects entered the U.S. illegally in March. Martinez-Rangel was apprehended by Border Patrol agents in March and Peña was apprehended in May, according to U.S. immigration officials.

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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