Details Emerge in Homicide Case

Friday, March 02 2012

Court documents concerning the murder of Jonathan Adams, a 55-year old seafood processor from Vancouver, Washington, tell the story of a fight spun horribly out of control.

Denison Soria, 40, of Unalaska, and Leonardo Bongolto, Jr., 34, of Maple Valley, Washington, stand accused of fatally beating their co-worker outside of the Bering Fisheries bunk house on Tuesday night. The two were arraigned yesterday, and they were both charged with murder in the first degree.

According to the criminal complaint, two individuals witnessed the incident and provided statements.

A woman driving along Gillman Road was the first to alert police that a crime was occurring. She stated that she “saw a man lying on the steps [of the bunkhouse]” with two men “standing over the top of him.” She added that Adams was punched repeatedly, and then tumbled down the stairs face first upon being “knocked out.” She then saw Bongolto kick Adams multiple times, before he and Soria ran from the scene in opposite directions. The woman then went to see if she could assist Adams, but refrained from moving him after seeing that his injuries were serious.

When officers found Adams, he was still on the stairs with his head beneath his body, indicating “severe head and neck trauma.” Adams had a weak pulse at the time, and made one last gasp in officers’ presence. Attempts to revive Adams with CPR failed, and he was pronounced dead at the Illiuliuk Family and Health Services clinic, with the likely cause being a fractured skull.

A different witness account describes the lead-up to the fight. A fellow Bering Fisheries employee stated that he shared a beer with Soria and Bongolto before the fight occurred. He says that the two then “splashed the beer” on Adams, who was sleeping in the bunkhouse at the time. The witness says that he left to go to the bathroom with another co-worker, and that when they came back, Soria, Bongolto, and Adams were already fighting outside.

The defendants’ accounts of the incidents mostly match those of the witnesses, but paint Adams as an aggressor. Bongolto stated that he and Soria started the night at Harbor View Bar and Grill earlier that night. When they returned to the Bering Fisheries bunkhouse, a couple of co-workers were watching television and offered them beer. Bongolto said that he refused, because he thought he was on the verge of vomiting already, but that Soria accepted a drink. Bongolto commented that Soria and Adams had already been in an altercation that day, and that Soria went over to wake Adams by spraying beer on him. Adams was upset by this, and began to argue with Soria. Bongolto says that he tried to intervene, but that Adams then hit him. The three continued the fight outside, and Bongolto alleges that Adams hit him in the back of the head, which “hurt him and made him mad.” Bongolto says that he continued to fight Adams defensively, but that Adams fell, perhaps when Soria hit him. Because Bongolto was still angry, he then kicked Adams. Bongolto initially stated that he just kicked Adams in the legs, but then revised his statement to say that he kicked him in the back and that he may have also “accidentally kicked Adams in the head.” When Adams did not get up, Bongolto says then tried to assist him, but that a white female came over and said not to move Adams. After that, Bongolto returned to his room.

Soria similarly describes Adams as hostile. Soria stated that he and “many others at Bering Fisheries have had problems with Adams,” and that he had “previously told Adams not to make noise when he and others were sleeping.” Soria said he disrupted Adams’ sleep because he wanted Adams to drink with them, and “not keep everyone awake.” He added that he did not intentionally spill beer on Adams. Soria stated that when Adams woke up, he was angry and started attacking him and Bongolto. Soria also told police that Adams challenged him and Bongolto to fight outside, and that a melee then ensued. Soria added that he left the area before Bongolto began kicking Adams.

At the arraignment, Soria indicated that he wanted to share his story before the court, but an interpreter explained in Tagalog that the details of the case would not be discussed at that time. He and Bongolto qualified for court-appointed attorneys, and both stated that they would not be able to make the $250,000 bail that the state had set for them. The two remain in police custody, and their next court appearance is scheduled for March 9.

News Community About Site by Joseph Redmon