WAILUKU - Saying the defendant had "no remorse" for actions that were "premeditated" and "cold," a 2nd Circuit judge ordered Ronald Bonilla Sr. to serve 15 years in prison for his role in a murder-for-hire scheme six years ago.
Judge Rhonda Loo, who was bound to follow a plea agreement in the case, told Bonilla that he showed "no remorse."
She said Bonilla and another man agreed to kill a man for $3,350.
Ronald Bonilla Sr., 66, of Paia is sentenced Wednesday in 2nd Circuit Court to serve 15 years in prison for his role in a murder-for-hire scheme six years ago.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Nearly six years ago, a Lahaina man reported being handcuffed and forced into a vehicle in West Maui then driven through Kahakuloa to Kahului, where he was beaten Nov. 9, 2006.
The victim was released after promising to pay $100,000 to Bonilla, who was identified as one of the assailants along with co-defendant Lawrence Verzosa.
Bonilla of Paia was arrested the next day when he showed up in Kapalua to collect money from the victim, police said.
A police investigation showed that Aniano Yabo of Lahaina had offered to pay $3,350 to Bonilla and Verzosa if they would beat and kill the victim, who was involved with Yabo's wife.
Bonilla, 66, was charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder of the victim, including a reported second attempt a few months later when Bonilla sought assistance through contacts while in jail, police said.
In accordance with a plea agreement, Bonilla pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree theft. He also entered a conditional guilty plea to having a loaded firearm on a public highway, which carries a 10-year term.
Other charges in the case and another case were dismissed in exchange for Bonilla's plea.
The plea for the firearm is conditional because the defense is appealing retired 2nd Circuit Judge Joel August's ruling denying a motion to suppress the traffic stop that led to Bonilla's arrest, Bonilla's attorney Michael Green said at a previous hearing.
Verzosa, 48, was sentenced in August to an 18-month jail term as part of five years' probation. He was given credit for having already served the jail term.
Verzosa had spent six years in prison prior to his sentencing. He pleaded no contest to second-degree robbery. Other charges were dismissed in the case.
In 2009, Yabo, 47, was sentenced to a 20-year prison term after pleading no contest to conspiracy to commit murder.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.