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The preliminary hearing for the Gainesville man accused of murdering an alumnus of Battlefield High School is likely to be pushed back to late spring.
Spring hearing likely in Stringfellow murder case
© Gainesville TimesThe preliminary hearing for the Gainesville man accused of murdering an alumnus of Battlefield High School is likely to be pushed back to late spring.
Fairfax County police charged Johnny Enrique Bonilla with second degree murder in the Dec. 28, 2012 death of Manassas resident Zavier Odell Stringfellow.
After a Jan. 2 arraignment and Jan. 3 bond hearing, the Fairfax County General District Court released the 22-year-old Bonilla on a $10,000 bond payment, according to Bonilla's lawyer, Robert Whitestone.
Though the court originally scheduled a preliminary hearing for 2 p.m. on March 5, Whitestone said during an interview on Jan. 25 that he will push for a continuance, likely for April or May, as he will be occupied at the time and unable to be present at the hearing.
A preliminary hearing determines whether there is enough evidence for a case to proceed on to the next level of court.
If convicted, Bonilla could face five to 40 years in a state correctional facility, according to section 18.2-32 of Virginia state law.
Whitestone mentioned that the case is being prosecuted by Fairfax County deputy commonwealth's attorney Robert McClain.
While police charge that Bonilla stabbed the 20-year-old Stringfellow to death following an alleged botched marijuana deal along Glengyle Drive close to the Chain Bridge Road intersection in Vienna, Whitestone said that he plans to argue in court that Bonilla acted in self defense because police alleged that Stringfellow planned to rob him.
Two others were present at the crime scene, according to police and Whitestone.
"Police determined that the suspect and victim did not know each other prior to the evening of the incident," stated a Fairfax County police report.
After meeting on Dec. 28, the report states that "there was a struggle and the victim was stabbed."
Stringfellow, born on Oct. 24, 1992, graduated from Battlefield in 2011, earning accolades as an all-state football player who helped lead the Bobcats to the Group AAA, Division 6 state title in 2010.
He went on to play football at Ferrum College in Ferrum, Virginia, about 35 miles south of Roanoke.
Stringfellow's obituary stated that he was to be interned at Beulah Baptist Church Cemetery in Broad Run.
The obituary listed his surviving family members as his mother, father, two grandmothers, a grandfather, and a great-grandmother. It did not include any siblings.