“He attempted to punch me in the face as he ran towards me,” said Carlsbad police detective Scott Stallman. The murder suspect had become increasingly “agitated” and “animated” after detectives confronted him with evidence that contradicted his story, the detective told a judge.
The detective said he had stood up and told 31-year-old David Diaz to stop pacing the room and regain his seat during an interview at police headquarters on Orion Way. Instead, Diaz rushed the officer and swung at his head. That ended the recorded interview, according to the detective. A still photo of the confrontation was presented as evidence in San Diego Superior Court on February 5.
David Diaz has been in custody in lieu of $5 million bail since August 7, 2013, when his housemate, 24-year-old Asher Freeman, was found stabbed to death in the home they shared at 3550 Sierra Morena Drive in Carlsbad.
Freeman had responded to a room-for-rent ad six to eight months before his death, police said. Freeman moved into an upstairs bedroom, and his housemate Diaz lived downstairs. Freeman was an art student who kept to himself and did not interact or socialize with Diaz, according to witnesses.
Police found Freeman face-down on the carpet in the middle of his bedroom, his head and hands were a bloody mess. The medical examiner later declared the cause of death to be multiple stab wounds to the head and neck. There was a separate pool of blood near the body; it appeared the victim might have been moved or rolled over. Black ink was spilled and mixed with blood spatter around the room; more ink and blood were on a set of broken headphones found near the body. The deceased was lying near a little drafting table; investigators said they found many drawings and artwork in the room.
Cops followed blood droplets down the carpeted stairs, which led to a downstairs bathroom. There were blood smears in the shower stall and around the bathroom sink; blood from the sink was DNA-matched to Diaz. A black polo shirt found on the bathroom floor had a mixture of DNA from both Diaz and the deceased man, according to prosecutor Paul Myers. Blood spots found near the kitchen sink were matched to Diaz. Under the kitchen sink, investigators found two knives described as “extremely clean” and “placed oddly” on top of cleaning supplies. Despite the cleaning, one of those knives had Diaz’s DNA on it.
Police said it was Diaz who dialed 911 to report a shooting, and it was still daylight when they arrived before 6 p.m. that Wednesday afternoon to find Diaz on the phone, in the driveway of his home.
Diaz was “emphatic” that he did not go into the room where the body was found, according to detective Scott Stallman. “He told me he never entered the room.”
“He was nervous and high-strung,” said officer Adam Bentley. Diaz was shirtless, and cops quickly noticed scratches on his body and that Diaz was bleeding from one hand. “He said that a drug dealer had shot his roommate,” officer Bentley testified. Diaz told police that a drug dealer made a swipe at his belly with a knife before he fled, and when Diaz deflected that attack his hand got cut.
Parts of Diaz’s story changed over time, according to police. At first, Diaz reported hearing a gunshot, but no evidence of a gun or shots fired was found. Eventually, Diaz said that he saw a man stabbing his housemate. He also said he saw two tall black men come to the front door and then go upstairs with his roommate. When the two men fled, Diaz claimed they escaped in a red Porsche or Ferrari that had been parked at the end of the driveway, witnesses said.
Cops collected surveillance video from a neighbor whose property overlooked Diaz’s home. Detective Stallman said he reviewed that video and did not see two men enter nor exit the residence; nor did he see a red sports car. The detective said he did see David Diaz exit the front of the house shortly before police arrived.
A neighbor told investigators that she heard a man’s voice that day, yelling, “Turn that shit down!” The witness understood the comment to be related to loud music playing in the backyard. The neighbor said she knew Diaz’s voice and that it was not Diaz demanding the volume be lowered. She also said it was a little after 5 p.m. that same day when she saw Diaz make a small fire in his backyard and then he danced around the fire and made “goat noises” and “howling.”
Investigators interviewed the Diaz’s father, Manuel Diaz. The elder Diaz told police that he owned the home where his son and roommate lived. The father told investigators that his son David liked to watch DVDs of Al Pacino movies.
During cross-examination, defense attorney Matthew Roberts suggested that Diaz did not enjoy full mental health defense. He noted that investigators found 11 medications that had been prescribed to Diaz. Roberts also suggested Diaz’s irrational behavior might be attributed to drugs. Investigators confirmed that toxicology tests were ordered for Diaz but the results of those tests were not revealed.
Diaz pleads not guilty to one charge of murder and one felony charge of threatening violence on a peace officer.