The name Jose Bonilla was on law enforcement’s radar just weeks after the Zombicon shooting in 2015. But it took more than two years and a secret recording from a jailhouse informant to finally bring him in.
Former federal prosecutor Nicole Waid says investigators played it safe.
“I think in situations like this where it’s such a high profile case and there’s so much riding on it, they wanted to make absolutely sure that they have an iron clad case that they could not only make the arrest, but get the conviction,” she said.
Five tipsters mentioned his name to Southwest Florida Crimestoppers and several even said Bonilla had been bragging about the shooting.
Investigators say that’s exactly what he did while talking to a fellow inmate when he was arrested for a separate crime.
“Jail informants happen all the time. The majority of them are on the street. Jail informants are a little bit trickier because you’re dealing with somebody who already has trust issues…they’re in jail,” Waid said.
However, Waid says it’s unlikely the defense will try to fight this piece of evidence.
Most of the conversations Bonilla had with the informant are redacted in court documents, but they do say that Bonilla repeated most of what he told the informant to investigators.
“It appears that they used every resource they had to make sure the investigation was done properly,” Waid said.
Waid also says that it is likely the informant got time taken off his sentence or some type of leniency for helping with the investigation. And it will be difficult for Bonilla’s attorney to get this evidence thrown out.