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Was justice really served in Dodge City?

LatinaLista– Yesterday, Sam Bonilla, the Dodge City, Kansas man on trial for shooting and killing a man he claimed was trying to attack him was sentenced to the maximum sentence of 74 months.

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In following this story, and presenting the case as was reported by a local reporter, Claire O’Brien and also speaking with a local Latino community leader, I felt that Sam’s version of self-defense was just a much more plausible explanation than the notion that Bonilla, a respected businessperson in the local Latino community, would take his son and nephew down to the riverbed and just wait around to shoot without provocation the first couple of guys that crossed his path.


During the time I’ve posted about the case, members, and what I can only surmise are friends, of the shooting victim responded to my defense of Bonilla. As to be expected, they were enraged that I would defend someone who had shot their loved one. Yet, things took an ugly turn when responding to the last post, several of these same commenters used such profanity in expressing their outrage that I not only deleted their comments but in defending their loved one, they lost total credibility with me.

One of the arguments against Bonilla’s innocence, according to the shooting victim’s family is Bonilla must be guilty otherwise he wouldn’t have pled guilty to manslaughter.

In speaking to people in Dodge City’s Latino community, Bonilla pled guilty because he was too afraid he would not receive a fair trial and would be sentenced to life, never seeing his children again.

Seeing that he got the maximum sentence and the judge and jury handily denied his belief that he was acting in self-defense, seems to strengthen his doubts of the Dodge City judicial system.

Bonilla’s first hint that the tables were turned against him was when the judge, Dan Love, stated before the trial even began that he felt Bonilla had used “excessive force.” Well, the judge continued to tell Bonilla what he thought during the sentencing hearing, as well as, raking reporter Claire O’Brien over the coals for reporting that Bonilla used self-defense.

According to Judge Love, O’Brien’s use of the term “self-defense” fueled assumption that Bonilla was innocent, and discounted the counter testimony of two other Hispanic women who were said to be present — testimony that no one ever elaborated on.

Regardless of the Judge’s remarks, there are facts to the case that were not introduced or widely disseminated that clearly showed that both of these men were drunk and harassing Bonilla and his nephew and son.

So, because Bonilla thought they were going to physically attack him and he defended himself, the judge can say in hindsight that Bonilla’s action was excessive and he deserves maximum jail time?

That doesn’t sound like justice or fair execution of the law — for Bonilla or for Claire O’Brien who, thanks to her diligence in getting the Bonilla story out, has achieved in getting a story out there in the national press that never would have gotten out of Dodge.

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  • Maria
    April 8, 2010 at 11:33 am

    I just have one thing to say, Samuel Bonilla is my uncle and i know for a fact that he is a good person. I know that if he felt that he wasnt in danger he wouldnt have shot the guys. People argue that the guys were not armed, but who would know that for shure if you see two drunk guys driving crazy trying to get you off the road are you going to ask them hey are you armed? no he just assumed they were and he was going to do anything to protect the children. He has worked hard in this country and he had to sell every thing he owned just to defend himself. He plead guilty because he has two sons that need him! He just couldnt risk getting a longer sentence which he probably would have gotten thanks to this racist prosecuter and judge! Because race did play a role in this decision!!!

  • Toni
    April 10, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    I believe everyone knows what assuming something does. Assuming someone is armed and shooting them because you assume they are armed is not a justifiable shooting. Stating a judge and a prosecuter are racist is also assuming just like Sam Bonilla assumed Steven Holt and Tanner Brunson were racist. First of all there were several requests for the judge to do an upward departure in the sentencing of Sam Bonilla for this crime and double the maximum time of his sentence. If the judge and prosecuter were racist dont you think they would have granted that request and sentenced him to twelve years. This was a senseless crime and you cant make sense out of something senseless it is time to heal and move on in the best way you can. There was no tire track evidence of anyone driving crazy and eyewitnesses confirmed the lack of tire track evidence of crazy driving.

  • greg wood
    June 17, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I just read the article in the May 10th issue of Tthe New Yorker magazine. I was disgusted to anger by this outrage against a decent man by human vermin and their defenders. The fact that Sam Bonilla was required to spend even the night of the day he did civilized society a great favor by shooting these two scum, is an example of our country’s decent into barbarism disguised as truly lunatic political correctness. It is time that bikers, crips, ms13, skinheads, bloods, and every other group of cowardly garbage stop being defended in their criminality by showboating vote-grubbers like this Terry Malone. I hope the Hispanic voters of Ford County throw this bum out for even entertaining the idea of condemning a man for defending himself and his family.

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