"I didn’t want to go over there in the first place,” David Herbert said. “Before I went over there I spoke with my HOA and contacted law enforcement asking them to help me with the noise situation over there.” But they didn’t do anything about it.
“So I went over there. I knocked on her door, and I asked her, I couldn’t have been any nicer than I was, I asked her, you know, ‘Please, can you please turn the TV down? Can you please stop making all that noise?’”
Mrs. Griffith said it was noise from her son’s room, from his television, that was bothering her neighbor Herbert.
“The reason I was so sensitive about the noise at that point was, I was studying something in my home to take a licensing exam,” Herbert explained. “So that’s why I really needed to have that peace at the time. So I’m not like a grinch sitting there, you know, ‘I need to have complete silence.’”
Mrs. Griffith and her family moved into their Oceanside home in October 2011. The house on Carino Way stands around the corner from Mission San Luis Rey. Eight months later, on June 1, 2012, Herbert moved into the house next door.
The day after he spoke to his new neighbor about the television noise, Herbert sent an email to the homeowners association: “Okay, the day after I spoke to them, the window is still open and the noise is still pouring out.” He had lived in the community for only two months, but Herbert already had become a frequent complainer to the homeowners association. “I initially sent you a laundry list of violations, none of which have been addressed,” he wrote. “I’m absolutely requesting a hearing before the board of directors. I intend to fight this via every legal means possible.” And he signed off with, “You will be hearing from me soon again.”
The next day, Mrs. Griffith found all four tires flattened on her red 1998 Ford Explorer. She had parked her car overnight on the street, on the other side of Herbert’s house, in front of the community pool. Mrs. Griffith’s son told her it looked as if someone had poked a hole in each tire.
“As far as Griffith, as far as she’s concerned, I believe she got what she deserved.” Herbert was speaking plainly by the end of his criminal trial in 2018. He told the jury that if you behave with complete disregard for those around you, and you get your tires slashed, “then I’m sorry, but you’re not getting any sympathy from me, you’re getting none whatsoever.”
In August of 2018, six years after his experience with his first neighbor on Carino Way, Herbert was in court acting as his own attorney, fighting charges of vandalism and felony animal abuse. “When I cross-examined Griffith and I used the word ‘scumbag,' I meant what I said. I don’t take it back. I stand behind it one hundred percent.”
During his closing argument, at the end of a two-week trial, Herbert spoke directly to the jury. “And when I said that the other neighbors that lived there, I called them ‘scumbags’ as well, I stand behind it a hundred percent. I don’t take it back.”
The first family, the Griffith family, did not get the worst of Herbert’s alleged terrorization. A succession of neighbors who rented the home next to Herbert suffered terribly bad luck.
Mrs. Morales and her dogs
“Maria Morales, she was also a scumbag,” Herbert said. “She was the biggest scumbag of all.” It was in the year 2016, he said, “when the first family moved in with the dogs.”
“So I was still living there all the way up to 2016 when Morales and her husband and her family moved in there. I was there. And they moved in with their dogs.”
Herbert said Mrs. Morales was a nuisance. “She was loud. She used the animals to continue her obnoxious behavior. She was told by police officers to keep the dogs inside, she was told by myself to stop making noise. And see how things turned out. She ignored both of those warnings and continued her obnoxious behavior.”
Herbert wanted everyone to know his frank opinion. “She wasn’t a good neighbor. And that may sound like I’m giving you a reason to believe that I attacked her, but she wasn’t a good neighbor. And that’s the bottom line. She was noisy and the animals were noisy. And in my opinion, that’s why they were attacked.
“And it wasn’t just the dogs that were making noise; she was actually worse than the dogs, if you can believe that. And I can’t sit here and make the same noises that she was making. Otherwise, I think everyone would get up and leave the room, it was that bad.”
A prosecutor helpfully prompted Herbert, “How bad was it?”
Herbert declared,“If it was on a scale of one to a million, it was ten million. It was that bad. If you were there, you would understand. But it’s that bad, trust me, it’s that bad. She was yelling over there.”
The prosecutor asked, “Who was she yelling at?”
Herbert answered, “I don’t know; the dogs, her son, I don’t know.”
Herbert wanted the jury to know: “I don’t have anything against any animals. I don’t have anything against cats or dogs or anything.” He insisted, “I have no quarrel with any animal at all.” He just expects animal owners to be considerate. “You have a responsibility to be considerate, you should be considerate of those around you, and that’s my view.
“And the way the homes are set up over there, the homes are really close.” The jury was shown photos of the houses. “So you have to be considerate of the people around you.” He would not waiver, “That’s just how I feel, and I’m standing behind it; if I get crucified for it, I do.”