Mother of murdered teen first witness called in case of alleged MS-13 gang member

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BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) – The trial is underway for Kevin Soto-Bonilla, the alleged MS-13 gang member who, along with others, is accused of killing a Lynchburg teenager in March 2017.

In the first full day of court testimony, Wood’s mother, Marjorie Stagno, took the stand. She described her son as “full of life” and said they were very close.

“He was my baby,” she testified.

She said the last time she saw her son was on the morning he was killed. Their last conversation was later that day by phone. His last words to her were, “I love you, Mom.” She told him she loved him too.

She said she was working the night of March 27, 2017, when she received a call from Wood’s father that worried her. She returned to their Lynchburg home to find her son missing. After canvassing the neighborhood looking for her son, she returned home and retrieved a flashlight. She then located Wood’s cell phone in the front yard of the home.

“I ran into the house and screamed at the top of my lungs because I knew something wasn’t right,” she testified.

She then went back outside and located her son’s glasses as well as a black ski mask that did not belong to him.

“I knew right when I found those items…I just knew,” she testified.

The Commonwealth then asked her to identify a pair of Timberland boots. She confirmed that they belonged to her son, saying that he saved up for them and had them specially ordered.

Wood was not wearing shoes when his body was discovered in a Bedford County Road. The boots that Wood’s mother positively identified as belonging to her son were later found in a car driven by Victor Rodas.

The second witness called was the woman who discovered Wood’s body on Roaring Run Road. She testified that she was driving down the road when she saw the body. She pulled over and called 911.

She said based on the condition of the body, she could not immediately identify the gender of the victim and she believed it was a hit and run.

She got out of the car and confirmed the victim was not breathing. She said she saw an older model Honda drive upon the scene. She attempted to stop the driver but testified that the car sped past her and did not stop.

Based on that information, law enforcement officers were on the lookout for a Honda Accord that had driven away from the scene of a possible hit and run.

A sergeant with the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene and determined the victim was not injured in a hit and run. Wood was located partially clothed, he was missing his shoes, and his right hand was severed from his body and lying nearby. He secured the area with crime scene tape.

A Bedford County Sheriff’s Office deputy testified that he spotted a Honda Accord passing him in the opposite direction on the night of March 27, 2017, and stopped the car based on the description of the vehicle that had driven past the scene of the crime, according to the 911 caller.

The driver, later identified as Victor Rodas, had no identification on him and gave inconsistent statements about where he had been that evening, the deputy testified. The deputy smelled the odor of marijuana coming from the car and searched it. He found bags of marijuana and cash on the floor of the car’s back seat. He also located a pair of Timberland boots in the car that belonged to Wood.

The Commonwealth is expected to continue calling witnesses throughout the day.

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