EL PASO, Texas
A woman who was convicted of kidnapping her own child months before her father murdered her ex-husband was back in court Monday.
Erika Quiñones was arrested in Oregon, where she now resides, in November. She is accused of falsifying a report to a special federal investigator.
Quiñones was extradited to El Paso and has been in custody at the El Paso County Jail Annex in Far East Paso since Nov. 21.
Quiñones's defense attorney Troy Brown filed a motion to recuse Judge Angie Juarez Barill of the 346th District Court. The motion was heard by visiting judge Dick Alcala of Bexar County Monday morning.
According to the investigation by El Paso police detectives, Quiñones filed a report of misuse of benefits with the Social Security Administration. The arrest affidavit states Quiñones told the SSA that Sonya Wolff, her former sister-in-law, was wrongfully claiming the benefits of William Wolff, Quiñones’ murdered ex-husband.
The affidavit states Quiñones filed the report in August, just weeks after she gave up parental rights to her daughter to avoid facing prison for her aggravated kidnapping conviction.
The daughter of Quiñones and Wolff has been living with her aunt Sonya, William Wolff’s sister, since police found her with her grandmother crossing the border into the U.S. from Mexico in January 2016.
Court records show a formal adoption of the girl by her aunt was finalized in Nov. 2019.
The girl had disappeared with Quiñones and Quiñones’ parents in April 2015 during a divorce and custody dispute. In December of that year, William Wolff was murdered, shot to death outside an office building in Northeast El Paso.
Wolff’s former father-in-law Javier Quiñones was found guilty of his murder in 2017 and is currently serving a life sentence.
As a witness in the recusal hearing, Brown testified he was concerned Barill had become prejudiced against his client. Brown said during a conference involving himself, prosecutor James Montoya and Barill in November, Barill told him she was surprised the prosecutor agreed to the sentence of probation for the aggravated kidnapping conviction and she believed Quiñones was indirectly involved in Wolff's murder by influencing and manipulating her father's actions.
"The judge must recuse herself if impartiality is questioned," Brown said.
When Judge Alcala asked Brown if he had reason to believe Barill got information from anywhere other than evidence presented in the murder and aggravated kidnapping trials, Brown said, "No."
Alcala denied the motion to recuse Barill. He said she did not state an opinion about what bond should be imposed upon Quiñones, nor did she say what penalty she thought Quiñones should have had imposed upon her in her aggravated kidnapping trial.
Meantime, Quiñones remains held without bond.