Alleged Pelham Gardens killer pleads not guilty, faces new charges

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Luis Bonilla, 32, pleaded not guilty to murder charges on Aug. 20,2021, in the slaying of Nicholo Rappa, 91, of Pelham Gardens.
Photo Adrian Childress

Luis Bonilla, the suspect charged with the murder, burglary and assault of an elderly man in the Pelham Gardens section of the Bronx earlier this month, was indicted for an unrelated second-degree assault in Bronx Criminal Court on Monday afternoon.

Bonilla said he was “not prepared” for proceedings on Monday afternoon, but after an off-the-record conversation with his consul, J Olayinka Dan-Salami, Bonilla murmured his way through a not guilty plea.

This continues a series of court appearances for Bonilla, dating back to Aug. 20, when he pleaded not guilty to felony charges, including murder and assault that are in connection with the death of 91-year-old Nicholo Rappa.

According to authorities, Bonilla who was out on parole is accused of attacking Rappa, tying him up and beating him to death after posing as a construction worker to gain access to his Wickham Avenue home in Pelham Gardens on Aug. 3.

Bonilla was as arrested on Aug. 9, on charges that included first-degree murder; burglary of a dwelling causing injury; manslaughter; first-degree robbery, and assault with intent to cause serious injury.

The 32-year-old is also facing additional counts in connection to two unrelated incidents that took place in July and also while he was in custody. While in custody, Bonilla reportedly had a run-in with a corrections officer, resulting in additional charges of aggravated harassment of an employee by an inmate and unlawful maintaining of premises.

According to state Department of Corrections records, Bonilla was sentenced to state prison in 2018 for attempted robbery in the first degree, a felony. He was released on Jan. 19, 2021, on conditional parole.

Rappa, a construction worker, had been taking care of his 96-year-old wife at the time of his death.

The defense will issue their motions on Oct. 18, with the prosecution’s response on Nov. 11. A decision on the charges before Bonilla is set for Nov. 16.

Reach Robbie Sequeira at or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter @bronxtimes and Facebook @bronxtimes.