Man extradited from Mexico, pleads guilty to three Utah murders
Jun 12, 2023, 4:29 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2023, 9:20 am
SALT LAKE CITY — A man accused of murdering a woman and her unborn child in 2006 and murdering another woman in 2008 has pleaded guilty.
Juan Antonio Arreola-Murillo pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated murder, each a first-degree felony, according to a release from the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office.
Arreola-Murillo is accused of strangling Sonia Mejia and subsequently killing her unborn child on Feb. 9, 2006, at her Taylorsville home.
A neighbor witnessed Arreola-Murillo talking to Mejia and forcibly entering her home.
Mejia was found by her husband that evening when he arrived home from work, she had been sexually assaulted and strangled to death. She was six months pregnant.
Two years later, on Feb. 9, 2008, Arreola-Murillo strangled Damiana Castillo at 4000 South Redwood Road, according to court documents.
Before a positive identification was made of the suspect in these cases, Arreola-Murillo was deported to Mexico in 2008.
In 2016, the Automated Fingerprint Identification System reported a positive match on the latent fingerprints obtained from the scene of Mejia’s and Castillo’s murders.
On April 5, 2017, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office reviewed and filed formal criminal charges against Arreola-Murillo, who at that time was serving a prison sentence in Mexico for a series of aggravated robberies.
Following his prison sentence and the extradition process, Arreola-Murillo was returned to Utah from Mexico in January 2022.
“Our office mourns the losses of Damiana Castillo, Sonia Mejia and her unborn child. While perfect justice would mean that these three individuals would still be with us today, we hope
that these guilty pleas can bring a semblance of justice and closure for these families,” Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said. “We would like to acknowledge Unified Police Department, West Valley City Police Department, and our prosecutors for their efforts on this case. We would like to also thank our partner agencies on extraditing Mr. Arreola-Murillo back to Utah to account for his crimes.”