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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | West County / MEINERS OAKS

Man Denies Killing Ojai Acquaintance

January 08, 1999|HOLLY J. WOLCOTT

A Meiners Oaks man has pleaded not guilty to murder and a host of other felonies stemming from the shooting death of an acquaintance in early December.

Daniel Joseph Bonilla, 27, remained jailed Thursday night on charges that include murder, carjacking, robbery, kidnapping and violating parole. No bail is allowed on the parole violation, a deputy at the jail said.

During an arraignment Wednesday, Bonilla denied involvement in the Dec. 5 shooting of 36-year-old Thomas Mahl of Ojai, according to court records.

Mahl was shot once in the head during a fight with Bonilla at a Casitas Springs trailer park. He died four days later at Ventura County Medical Center after being taken off life-support machines.

Deputies said that after the shooting, Bonilla walked to a nearby home, where an elderly couple--who were unaware of the shooting--called him a taxi.

Bonilla then allegedly kidnapped the cab driver and forced him to drive north on the Ventura Freeway before releasing him in Goleta. Bonilla was arrested a short time later after crashing the cab north of Santa Barbara.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 23.

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