For Immediate Release - October 29, 2010

Lawrence Teen Pleads Not Guilty To Armed Robbery

Defendant is Son of Lawrence Deputy Police Chief

Jamel Bonilla, 17, of 57 Marble Avenue, Lawrence, pleaded not guilty today in Lawrence District Court to charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, carrying a firearm without a license, assault with a dangerous weapon, and two counts of armed robbery. Bonilla is the son of Lawrence Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla.

Judge James Barretto ordered Bonilla held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing, which is scheduled for Wednesday, November 3, in Lawrence District Court. Two co-defendants, Jonathan Vargas, 22, of 240 Water Street, Lawrence, and Joseph Rodriguez, 18, of 8 Mason Street, both of Lawrence, were arraigned earlier this week. Both men are held without bail pending their dangerousness hearings, also slated for November 3.

Essex Assistant District Attorney Greg Johnson told the court that the alleged offenses took place on October 21 outside of 8 Caulkins Court in Lawrence, where the three defendants allegedly held up two men outside of that address.

Bonilla was represented at today's arraignment by Attorney Salim Tabit.

According to Lawrence Police Chief John Romero, once it was determined that Bonilla may be implicated in the alleged crime, he contacted the Office of Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett and asked it to take the lead in the investigation to avoid any appearance of conflict.