In 1998 Medina graduated cum laude from UCSD with a cumulative GPA of 3.66 and a 3.79 gpa in his major. He made the provost’s honor roll six times.
In January 1999 Medina started his first job. He commuted to Integrated Resources Institute in Irvine, an employment agency that helps clients with mental and physical disabilities find mainstream jobs. He would comb the want ads for jobs for his clients and would help them write résumés and prepare for interviews. Several months later, in March 1999, he learned of a position at the Fair Housing Council of San Diego. The position called for someone with much more experience and a master’s degree. But Medina performed so well in his interview that in April he was hired. He was serious about the job and traveled to Washington, D.C., on several occasions for work. Medina reportedly saw fair housing and fair loan laws as an antidote to weaknesses in civil rights laws. His mother recalled that he “learned how to run meetings and work with government officials.” The sentencing document quotes Medina as saying that he was particularly proud about one case he worked on. On behalf of a Spanish-speaking tenant, he intervened with an apartment manager. The tenant’s son, who was four, was incontinent and urinated in the building. The manager wanted the tenant out of the building, but Medina mediated an agreement. Mary Scott-Knoll, Medina’s supervisor at the Fair Housing Council, wrote, “David always showed…the utmost… respect.” Another coworker at the Fair Housing Council, David R. Estrella, called Medina “charismatic.”
But, according to Medina’s attorney, Doug Brown, he maintained ties to friends whose lives were headed in another direction. Three years before he was hired, he had already committed one of the murders he was eventually convicted of. Just months after he started work at the Fair Housing Council, he would take part in three more murders. One witness later testified that Medina had boasted to him about carrying a semiautomatic handgun to work in his briefcase. The witness said that the weapon made Medina “feel comfortable”; he liked “knowing that he was strapped.”
On October 29, 1994, months after he enrolled at UCSD, Medina crashed a party thrown by Martina Tangen for her son Matthew. Medina allegedly started a fight and Tangen asked him to leave. Medina threatened to shoot her, then fired a shot in the air. Detectives retrieved a casing from a .380-caliber handgun at the scene.
On June 21, 1996, 16-year-old Hector Martinez, a Hilltop High student, was walking toward the 7-Eleven located at Broadway and K Street in Chula Vista. He was with his 14-year-old brother, Jose, and two friends. They were allegedly members of the Varrio Chula Vista street gang. Meanwhile, some Southeast Locos attempted to enter a nearby nightclub, but because of their appearance they were not allowed in. The Southeast Locos then drove down Broadway; David Medina was behind the wheel of a green Ford Taurus. At Broadway and K Street, they saw the Varrio Chula Vista members; both sides threw up gang signs with their hands. The Southeast Locos drove away and the Varrio Chula Vistas continued down K Street. Several blocks away, the two groups saw each other again. Three of the Southeast Locos jumped out of the car and chased the Martinez brothers and their two friends on foot. Medina and a Southeast Loco named Julio Aguilar gave chase in Medina’s car.
Jose Martinez later remembered that a car pulled up when his group was at the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Sierra Way; it was “bumping music,” he said. The car peeled away, and Hector told his younger brother that he had been shot. Hector was bleeding from the chest. Another witness remembered seeing a hand point out of the car window and then flashes fire from a gun.
Julio Aguilar later testified before a grand jury that the evening had begun at his house. The group decided to leave the house and go to Club Diversity. Aguilar went with Medina in a green Taurus, which belonged to Medina. After they were denied entry at the club, they went for a drive. When they encountered the Varrio Chula Vista gang, they threw their signs. Then they chased the Martinez brothers and their friends. Shots were fired. They drove back to Aguilar’s mother’s house. Aguilar testified that Medina said, “I hit him.” Medina then told Aguilar to pretend that he did it.
Hector Martinez died from his wounds. The bullet, from a .380-caliber handgun, entered the right side of his heart, fractured his ribs, and caused severe bleeding. Casings from the gun were later compared to a .380 casing found at the Tangens’ in 1994 and at the site of an attempted murder in 1997. The casings matched.
The 1997 attempted murder occurred on January 24. Alina Jefferies and her boyfriend Rafael Cruz were at the 7-Eleven on H Street in Chula Vista. Medina and a friend, David Bury, ran into the couple in front of the store. Bury, whom Jefferies knew as “Super Dave,” allegedly confronted them. Cruz went into the store and Jefferies told Medina and Bury to leave them alone because she was pregnant. When Cruz walked out of the store, Medina and Bury told him to shut up before he got “capped.” Then they followed Jefferies and Cruz across the street to La Tostada taco shop and started to beat them. Jefferies was shot in the stomach, but her fetus was not injured; Cruz was also shot. A limousine driver later identified Medina as one of the suspects.
Two and a half years later, on September 10, 1999, Adam Joshua Vasquez, 18, and Victor Manuel Vega IV, 19, were gunned down and killed as they left a party at 1193 Thalia Street in Nestor. Vasquez and Vega were cousins and members of a large, close-knit family. Police said that neither of them was a member of a gang. Vasquez, of Chula Vista, was a freshman at Southwestern Community College and a graduate of Castle Park High; Vega, who was born in National City, worked for a dry-cleaning company. Witnesses identified the assailants as up to 15 party-crashers in three cars who returned to the party after they were denied entry.