MERCED — A 52-year-old suspect accused of killing a couple in their Mission Avenue home pleaded not guilty to murder charges in Merced County Superior Court this week.
Julio Cesar Guevara Bonilla sat quietly at the hearing Monday. He's charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Wil- liam Cisneros, 82, and his wife, Clara Cisneros, 43.
The couple's badly decomposed bodies were discovered Sept. 30 in the laundry room of their 440 Mission Ave. home. Merced County sheriff's investigators said the two had been stabbed multiple times.
Bonilla also faces two felony counts of grand theft and one felony count of auto theft.
Attached to each of the murder charges is an enhancement for using a knife.
He was extradited from Louisiana last month and booked at Merced County Jail on Oct. 23, after his arrest by police in Kenner, La.
Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin wouldn't comment Tuesday about what investigators may have learned after interviewing Bonilla.
"At this point in time, we believe (the motive) was robbery, just by the mere fact that he took the Cisneroses' personal belongings and fled in their vehicle," Pazin said.
Bonilla lived with the couple and had worked in their gardening business, according to investigators.
Deputy Public Defender Caleb Hegland said he has spoken with his client at length.
"This is a complex and unusual case. New facts continue to emerge as we conduct our own investigation into the deaths of William and (Clara) Cisneros," Hegland said. "Mr. Bonilla has indicated that he wants to move quickly towards trial. We are diligently preparing to present our case."
Bonilla is being held in lieu of $2.1 million bail.