BEDFORD — Citing challenges bringing witnesses from El Salvador, attorneys for a man charged with being a member of the violent MS-13 gang and murdering a Lynchburg teen two years ago have postponed his trial date until December.
Kevin Josue Soto Bonilla, 22, previously was scheduled for a jury trial starting July 23. He’s one of four men facing a charge of capital murder in Bedford County from the March 2017 death of 17-year-old Raymond Wood.
His attorneys, Anthony Anderson and Aaron Houchens, asked for more time in Bedford Circuit Court on Tuesday. They filed a motion stating they haven’t been able to secure appearances of “necessary and material witnesses from El Salvador,” where Soto Bonilla is from.
Among those witnesses is Soto Bonilla’s mother, who, according to a letter from the Consulate of El Salvador, is applying for a U.S. visa.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Wes Nance said he’s received notice of the issues procuring those witnesses, but pointed out in court that he’s been ready to try Soto Bonilla’s case “for quite a while.” He said he has “several dozen” witnesses who were prepared to testify in the July trial and would be negatively affected by pushing the trial date back further.
Bedford Circuit Court Judge James Updike found Soto Bonilla’s attorneys’ request reasonable and granted it.
Nance said he expects the trial to take no more than 10 days. After some discussion on the difficulties in scheduling such a lengthy trial around the holidays, the attorneys agreed to set a trial date of Dec. 2.
Anderson said he’d update the court on where Soto Bonilla’s defense team is at a June 28 motions hearing that’s already been scheduled. Since he’s charged with capital murder and potentially could face the death penalty, Soto Bonilla is granted more than one attorney and other experts to aid in his defense.
Rachel Mahoney covers courts for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5554.