Edward Bonilla tells a story of alcohol, violence and despair. None of his testimony was captured by TV cameras.
The judge granted a motion to require members of the media to turn off cameras during Bonilla’s testimony. When he took the stage, he was clearly nervous. Maybe that’s why his defensive team made the request.
A visibly nervous Bonilla said Ashley Nicole Pegram had been drinking. He said he accidentally hit her mother with his car when she was out to use the toilet. After that, he said she became angry and violent. Bonilla said he had to restrain her and she died in his arms.
Bonilla said he panicked and left her body on the side of the road, but then drove back in a van to carry the body. Before loading Pegram’s body into the van, he said he tied a plastic bag to her head because it was bleeding.
Edward Bonilla told everyone in court that he did not mean to kill the 28-year-old woman.
“I never wanted to hurt anyone,” Bonilla said. “It was an accident, an accident that was influenced by the way she was behaving.”
During cross-examination, Bonilla was asked if Pegram’s death was her fault. Bonilla said “no”.
Much of the second day of the murder trial revolved around evidence including cell phone records and blood typing.
Last May, Pegram’s body was found buried in a woods near Halleville. Ashley left their Somerville home at 9.18pm, her sister told ABC News 4. On April 3rd, she went on a date with a man she met on the dating app Meet Me.
During Wednesday’s trial, Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office investigator Adam Smith said he obtained and analyzed Bonilla’s cell phone records.
Between April 3 and 4, Bonilla’s phone pinged on the tower below, according to Smith.
As part of the investigation, detectives looked at Pegram’s “Meet Me” profile and “Kik” instant messages. They found that the conversation with Bonilla dates back to March.
DCSO Cpl. Bradley Mullis went on to check his blood type analysis, saying he had no doubts about the blood found in the process belonging to Ashley Pegram.
“One, the donor itself was standing or in a position facing the passenger side of the van and was bleeding and swinging himself,” he said. “Or the donor, on the passenger side of the van, closer to the bottom, and there’s something swinging over them.”
MUSC’s forensic pathologist Dr Nicholas Batalis spoke of an autopsy on Pegram’s body and noted extensive decay, trauma on the left side of the head and a dent in the neck.
Batalis said the fractured neck was consistent with strangulation, but he could not determine whether Pegram was injured while he was alive.
He was able to confirm that her head injuries were caused by blunt force trauma and that the woman had muscle relaxants and alcohol in her system when she died. However, he was unable to determine her blood alcohol level.
He said there were also injuries that made him suspect sexual assault, but his medical condition made it difficult to draw that conclusion.
He also said he noticed two unusual items on Pegram’s body, black electrical tape wrapped around her right wrist and more tape wrapped around her neck several times.