IB man who killed wealthy boyfriend to inherit his estate gets life in prison

SAN DIEGO – An Imperial Beach man who stabbed his boyfriend to death and dumped his body in a ravine near Rosarito Beach, Mexico, so he could inherit the dead man’s estate, was sentenced Monday to life in prison.

David Enrique Meza, 27, was convicted after a federal trial of murdering Texas retiree Jake Clyde Merendino, who was 51 years old.

The victim was stabbed 24 times and his throat was slashed to the point of near decapitation, prosecutors said.

“This murder was shockingly evil … excessively so,” U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller said.

The victim’s body was found next to the highway between Rosarito and Ensenada in the early morning hours of May 2, 2015.

Meza was convicted of foreign domestic violence resulting in death and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

“If we try to visualize what happened, we visualize blow, after blow, after blow, after blow, after slash, after slash, after slash, after blow, and repeat another three times … one can’t imagine the torture and torment Mr. Merendino experienced,” the judge said.

According to evidence presented at trial, Meza and Merendino met online in June 2013 and were involved in a romantic relationship thereafter.

At the same time, Meza was allegedly also involved in a long-term romantic relationship with Taylor Marie Langston, a Chula Vista High graduate who was pregnant with his child at the time of the murder. Prosecutors said Meza was living a double life.

Merendino’s death came two days after he closed escrow on a luxury oceanfront condominium in Rosarito. Meza was the beneficiary.

Within days of the murder, Meza produced a handwritten will on hotel stationary that made him sole heir to Merendino’s estate.

Prosecutors said Meza and Merendino drove to Mexico on April 30, 2015, to close on the condo. The next day, they returned to Baja — Merendino driving his Range Rover and Meza following on his motorcycle. The condo wasn’t ready, so Meza and Merendino checked into a hotel in Rosarito. About 10:30 p.m., the hotel manager heard a motorcycle leaving the hotel and Meza was seen crossing back into the United Stated at about 11 p.m.

Prosecutors said Meza returned to Mexico in the early morning hours of May 2, 2015.

Merendino was last seen alive that same morning, when he drove out of the hotel parking lot, telling a security guard that he needed to help a friend stranded on the road. His body was found around 3 a.m.

That night, Meza and his fiancee returned to the hotel in Rosarito in the Range Rover, prosecutors said.

Meza told hotel staff he was there to pick up his personal items from the room he had shared with Merendino.