New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | May 18, 2024

North Carolina man receives three life sentences for having sex with New Kent minor

By Andre Jones | May 6, 2024 9:12 pm

Marmolejo

*Editor’s Note: This story may contain content that some readers may find disturbing.

A North Carolina man who traveled to New Kent and had sex with an underage girl will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Jose Joan Martinez Marmolejo, 27, of Fayetteville, received three mandatory life sentences plus an additional 60 years of incarceration during Monday morning sentencing in New Kent Circuit Court. During a February trial, Marmolejo was found guilty of 16 charges by a jury.

At the trial, it was discovered that in Jan. 2022, Marmolejo had started having conversations with the victim through an online application. The conversations were generic at first, but a meet-up was arranged with the conversations becoming more sexual in nature.

On Feb. 25, 2022, Marmolejo left North Carolina and went to the old Circle K just off Exit 220 in New Kent, arriving at 1:45 a.m. After fueling up his vehicle, he attempted to contact the victim. When the victim didn’t respond, Marmolejo rented a room at the Washington-Burgett Inn in northern New Kent. Later that morning, the victim sent Marmolejo their location, with an expected meet up time between 6:50-7 a.m.

According to testimony from the victim’s mother, she allowed her child to sleep in due to it being a Saturday morning. When she went to see where her child was around 9 a.m., she discovered that the child was missing and contacted New Kent Sheriff’s Office. Along with assistance from the state police, a K-9 unit was able to pick up the scent of the victim, which ended at the end of the main road.

Around the same time, Marmolejo had driven the victim to the 7-Eleven where they sat in the car. The defendant provided $20 to the victim, which allowed them to purchase snacks and a gift card.

According to the victim’s testimony, they had originally thought they were going to hang out in the hotel with Marmolejo. Police were able to find the victim after knocking on the door at the inn. It took a while for the door to be answered by the defendant, but when the door was open, they were able to locate the child in the bathroom wearing only a t-shirt.

The victim told police and a forensic nurse that nothing had taken place, with DNA testing not being able to prove that a sexual assault had taken place. The scent detected by the K-9 along with the defendant having the victim provided enough evidence to warrant Marmolejo’s arrest.

In an interview in the interrogation room, Marmolejo admitted that he and the victim had sex multiple times, including oral sex. While these acts were taking place, the defendant had recorded the intercourse with the victim.

A search warrant was obtained, allowing investigators to find videos of the actions on the victim’s phone. Along with those videos, additional child pornography videos and pictures were discovered on Marmolejo’s phone.

The victim testified, saying that they did not want to tell the truth about the relations with Marmolejo because they were scared. And while the defense argued that neither the face of the victim or Marmolejo could not be seen in the videos, the figure and description of the defendant along with the victim’s face being partially shown provided evidence of the possible acts.

The victim continued to testify, informing the police and the forensic nurse that nothing had happened other than kissing and the defendant touching their leg. However, additional DNA evidence could not rule the defendant out as the individual in the video. The victim seemed distressed watching the videos of the events, reiterating that they were scared if they told the trip. The victim added they continued to tell Marmolejo their age, because they were under the age of 15.

The victim’s phone provided more incriminating evidence, as inappropriate material had been sent from Marmolejo to their phone, including multiple pictures and videos containing a child’s acts. One of the acts possibly included a video of the suspect and the victim.

After hearing that testimony and seeing the evidence, the jury took two hours to deliberate, rendering 16 guilty verdicts against Marmolejo.

During Monday morning’s sentencing, Marmolejo showed very little remorse and reaction to the verdicts that were read, something that New Kent Commonwealth Attorney Scott Renick pointed out.

“The defendant had this planned out,” Renick said. “He had videos on his phone and made the videos of it.

“He hasn’t even shown remorse,” the Commonwealth’s Attorney continued. “The victim was completely retraumatized by having to testify about the events.”

Marmolejo received mandatory life sentences of each conviction of having intercourse with a minor, having sodomy with a minor, and abduction of a minor with intent to defile. He also received a minimum mandatory of 25 years on committing sodomy with a kidnapped victim (25 years suspended), as well as five years each on five mandatory sentences of reproduction of child pornography-second offense (25 years total). Marmolejo also received a 20-year sentence with 15 years suspended on a single charge of producing child pornography, as well as five-year mandatory minimum time to serve on each of two charges of proposing to have sex with a minor via an electronic device.

Five years on possession of child pornography, 10 years on having indecent liberties with a minor and producing child pornography (first offense) were suspended. In total, Marmolejo received a total sentence of three life terms and 60 years to serve, with 110 years of suspended time hanging over his head. The defendant indicated that he plans to appeal his sentence.

In other circuit court proceedings:

–Matthew Ryan Holzschuh, 35, of the 18000 block of Polish Town Road, Barhamsville, entered a guilty plea to a solo count of possession of a Schedule I/II drug as part of a plea deal.

In a summary of evidence, on Sept. 20, 2023, a New Kent deputy had an arrest and search warrant for the defendant. When the officer arrived, he was able to locate the defendant. Holzschuh ended up getting injured, and as EMTs attended to him, one of them noticed a wrapped lottery ticket fall from the defendant’s pocket. A white substance was inside the ticket, which was submitted to the forensics lab and returned as 3.2 grams of methamphetamine.

Under the agreement, the defendant received a five-year sentence with four years, six months suspended (six months to serve). He must also have to pay a fine of $1,000.

–Joel Kofi Safo-Kantanka, 24, of the 15000 block of Pebblewood Street, Dumfries, entered a no contest plea to an amended charge of possession of a Schedule I/II drug (originally distribution of a Schedule I/II drug) and a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice as part of a plea agreement. One charge of distribution of marijuana greater than five pounds was dropped as part of the agreement.

In a summary of evidence, on July 23, 2023, a Virginia State Trooper patrolling Interstate 64 clocked a vehicle travel 88 miles per hour in a 70 miles per hour zone. A traffic stop was indicated, with the trooper speaking to the driver. The trooper noticed other individuals in the vehicle, along with a scale and shavings of what appeared to be shrooms, an illegal drug. The officer asked the individuals to step out of the car, with one of them Safo-Kantanka. As an investigation was taking place, Safo-Kantanka walked away from the scene. The officer located a bag that had a shroom inside of it, with a passport and birthday card that belonged to the defendant. The defendant admitted that the items inside were his.

Under the plea agreement, Safo-Kantanka was placed in the First Offender Program on the felony possession of a Schedule I/II charge. If he successfully completes the year-long program, the charge will be dropped. He received a 12-month sentence with nine months suspended (three months to serve) for obstructing justice by walking away from the scene to avoid being investigated.