Jose Daniel Bonilla, 26, was found guilty of rape on Tuesday. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 12. Another suspect, Rigoberto Ramos, who is Bonilla's co-defendant, is scheduled for trial on April 4.
The summertime rape occurred at Holmes Run Park, a popular neighborhood destination. Parts of the park are heavily wooded. News of a rape near the Latham Street Bike Path caused a great deal of concern for people who live in the area. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the crime was that it occurred at 1 p.m., a time when the park is usually populated with lunchtime strollers.
In a two-day trial, details emerged about the nature of the crime and the evidence against Bonilla. The defense attorney persuaded the judge to find the defendant not guilty of stealing the defendant's cell phone, a charge Judge John Kloch described as "totally circumstantial." But Bonilla was found guilty of rape, abduction, using a firearm in the commission of a rape and using a firearm in the commission of abduction.
JULY 2, 2004 was a sunny day. At Holmes Run Park, on the city's west side, parents and children were playing in the afternoon sun. One 23-year-old Alexandria woman was enjoying the sunshine by chatting to her mother on a cell phone. After a five-minute chat, she started walking east down the bike path, toward Duke Street. She was near the intersection of the park and Latham Street Bike Path when two men grabbed her and pointed a gun at her. One man spoke English to her and the other spoke only Spanish.
"One grabbed me on the arm and when I looked at the other, he had a gun," the victim testified on Monday. "I asked the one who spoke English if they were going to kill me and he said 'no."
She said the men dragged her into the thick foliage by Holmes Run Creek, where they forced her to lay on a large rock. One man held her at gunpoint while the other man raped her. The sexual assault lasted about three minutes.
"He whispered in my ear that he had just gotten out of prison," she said. "And that he hadn't had sex with a woman yet."
After the first suspect finished, he handed the gun to the second suspect, who spoke only Spanish. Then the second suspect raped her. After he was finished, she again asked if they were going to kill her. The man who spoke English said that they would not. She asked if she could put her shorts and panties back on. The first man said no and ordered her to sit in the water.
Afraid for her life and traumatized by what had just happened, she sat in the water for about 10 minutes. When she was relatively confident that they had left the area, she wrapped her T-shirt around her waist and sought help. She encountered a man who was in the park for a stroll. He offered to let her use her cell phone.
A tape of the 911 call was played in court. In it, the victim could be heard sobbing and giving details of the crime. She stayed on the phone with the 911 operator until police arrived.
When Alexandria police officers arrived on the scene, the area was secured. Eyewitnesses were interviewed. DNA samples were taken from the rock. One man said that he had seen two men running from the scene laughing and talking to each other in Spanish. He gave a description of the car, which was parked in the 5100 block of Holmes Run Parkway. The victim was taken to a local hospital, where DNA samples were taken from her body.
A few days later, a car matching the description of the one seen on Holmes Run Parkway was stopped in Falls Church. The men were photographed, and their mug shots appeared in a photo spread that was shown to the victim. She identified the man in the photo as one of the men who raped her.
DURING THE TRIAL, Bonilla was identified as the first suspect. The second suspect, Ramos, is scheduled for trial next month. Witnesses at the scene and police officers testified. The most incriminating evidence came from microscopic particles that were taken from the crime scene and from the victim's body.
When the DNA evidence was evaluated, the chances that Bonilla was not one of the men who raped the victim was one in 6 billion. The commonwealth attorney's office presented a case that included testimony from a DNA expert that went into detail about how the evidence was analyzed and what it meant.
In the end, Kloch was satisfied that the commonwealth had proven its case, and the defendant was found guilty of rape and abduction. Rape carries a charge of 5 years to life imprisonment and abduction carries a charge of 20 years to life imprisonment.