According to the court transcript of July 19, 2000, published news articles, and an interview with Hector Jimenez in November, six white Rancho Peñasquitos teenagers — Steven Deboer, 17; Bradly Davidofsky, 16; Adam Ketsdever, 16; Nicholas Fileccia, 16; Morgan Manduley, 15; and Kevin Williams, 15 — were driving a white Subaru station wagon through their quiet, affluent suburb on July 5 around 4:00 p.m. The boys had either been out cruising or just come from a get-together in their meeting place, an abandoned trailer with “KKK” and other racial epithets spray-painted on its side, set in a dense eucalyptus grove below Peñasquitos’s western edge. On the day of the assault, the teenagers had close- or completely shaven heads. They were carrying a BB gun.
The six youths drove by a Mexican man, Andres Roman Diaz, 66, walking along Black Mountain Road. Roman had finished work at Evergreen Nursery, where he’s employed six days a week watering plants. He was carrying three gallons of drinking water and two sacks of groceries back to his encampment in McGonigle Canyon. This several-mile-long canyon, parts of which contain steep ravines, runs west into Carmel Valley. Carmel Valley, according to migrant liaison officers Cesar Perea and Marty Guerra, is the seasonal home to some 200 farmworkers, documented and illegal. Paralleling McGonigle Canyon is a western segment of Black Mountain Road, which was then unpaved to Evergreen Nursery. The road is flanked by freshly bulldozed tracts — new housing developments and the coming thoroughfare of Ted Williams Parkway. But McGonigle Canyon remains a throwback: Its dusty roads and footpaths crisscross the chaparral. Halfway down a long hill is Roman’s plywood box of a dwelling, a mile and a half from the pan-tiled roofs of the Peñasquitos homes, whose median value is $320,000.
The teenagers shot at Roman from the Subaru with the BB gun during three or four passes. They took turns shooting at him as they drove by, but they missed him. On a fourth or fifth pass, Roman was struck, and his back was punctured with BBs. The youths then stopped the car and three of them pursued Roman on foot. Dropping the water containers, Roman ran toward the canyon. But, as he later told reporters, “They got back in the car and headed me off at the pass.” He was hit in the back another seven times. His back bleeding, Roman still managed to hurtle rocks at his assailants. The teenagers answered by tossing rocks at his head. They shouted “Pendejo!” They also threatened him: “We’re gonna sic immigration on you!” “Mexican, go back to Mexico!” Roman took cover in some bushes and waited. Eventually he made his way to Evergreen Nursery and waited there, also. But he never called the cops. (Later, when asked why he didn’t call for help, especially since he was bleeding, he said, “I didn’t want to bother anybody.”) Nearly two hours later, he left the nursery and returned to warn others at camp, where he lives with his son, Juan, 36. They usually spend evenings and nights undisturbed in their shack. Two single mattresses, candles for light, a propane tank and grill for cooking food, and a radio for entertainment are all they have.
During the time Roman was hiding, the six boys drove home and picked up two friends, Michael Rose, 15, and Jason Beever, 14. They also brought along a pellet pistol powered by CO2 cartridges. Before returning, the eight schemed and bragged about what they’d do. At their arrest, some of the adolescents told detectives they talked of how it would be “cool to shoot beaners.” According to Jimenez, some also confessed to a more detailed plan: They would play as if they were immigration officers and demand documentation from the Mexicans. If the men couldn’t produce papers showing they were in the United States legally, the teenagers would attack, rob, and shoot them. In addition, one of the youths told detectives that he believed the Mexicans wouldn’t call the police because the men were undocumented. His assumption was, if the boys beat up men thought to be working here illegally, the victims would, afraid of deportation, tell no one. On the way to one of the workers’ camps, the eight teenagers stopped at a construction site and armed themselves with rebar and wood implements.
Andres Roman Diaz returned to his shack, terrified. Seeing his son Juan, Andres didn’t mention the assault; he was fearful Juan would retaliate. Andres rested awhile, tried to eat some tortillas, but had no appetite. It was 6:00 p.m. now, the time by which his fellow workers were returning to their dwellings. He told his friend, Anastacio Irigoyen Najera, 69, what had happened. When Andres saw the six teenagers who shot him parking their car, he then showed his son his bloodied, BB-ridden back. Andres and Juan ran up a nearby hill and saw the teenagers hotfooting their way into the canyon. The gang had grown by two and all were toting weapons.
The youths first came upon the encampment of Atanacio Fierros Juarez and Juan Miguel Ramos, both 66. The two men were asked if they had either money or documentation, and speaking limited English, apparently they didn’t know how to respond. When Fierros didn’t produce anything, he was dragged out of his shack, beaten, and shot in the foot. Both men were robbed. Next, the teenagers came to Alfredo Ayala Sanchez, 64. He was at his dwelling, wedged into a ravine and covered by laurel sumac. He was cooking dinner on a propane skillet. Seeing the teenagers coming toward him, he took cover in his shack and, in a corner, rolled himself into a ball. With Ayala pinned, the teenagers shot him repeatedly in the face with the pellet gun. One shot to the face left a deep bruise. The youths then broke his skillet and tried to set Ayala’s dwelling on fire. The fire fizzled out.
For Deputy District Attorney Jimenez the incident between Ayala and the teenagers was one of the “darkest moments of this crime,” when Ayala was being “tortured and humiliated and terrorized.” At one point, after Ayala had been shot at, was bleeding in the face and in the back, whoever was shooting at him ran out of CO2 cartridges. Morgan Manduley ran to the Subaru to get more ammo for the CO2 gun and brought it back, after which the new ammo was used in shooting the next victim. It has been alleged that sometime during this altercation Manduley offered a rag to Ayala to help him wipe the blood off his face.