After nearly three days of jury selection, the trial is underway for Kevin Soto-Bonilla, an alleged MS-13 gang member and one of six men accused of killing 17-year-old Raymond Wood.
The Bedford County Commonwealth’s Attorney began by showing the jury a photo of Raymond Wood. He described him as a teenager who liked sneakers and video games.
He then outlined how Soto-Bonilla was one of the men to pull Wood from the front yard of his home, throw him into the back of a Honda Accord, and ultimately take part in Wood’s stabbing death.
Bedford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Wes Nance said the motive was that MS-13 wanted to take over the drug trade in the area and Wood sold marijuana.
“To [Soto-Bonilla], [Wood] was a nameless rival, called a chavala. But he had to die for a couple of reasons-for the good of the gang and the gang’s bottom line. And so he could score points, and move up into the hierarchy of MS-13,” said Nance.
In his opening statement, defense counsel told jurors that no DNA linked Soto-Bonilla to the crime.
“No eyewitness will take that stand and say he saw Kevin Soto-Bonilla inflict the mortal wound to Mr. Raymond Wood,” he said. “Not one item will you hear contained the DNA of Kevin Soto-Bonilla.”
He also told the jurors that some of the men involved in the crime may take the stand and that they had struck deals with the Commonwealth. He asked the jurors to assess the value of such testimony.
He then concluded that trials are like a book, and that the jurors would have to wait until the full story is revealed to come to a conclusion.