Men to stand trial in murder of South Bay music producer

CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Two men accused in the stabbing death of a Chula Vista music producer whose body was found in a drum floating in San Diego Bay were bound over for trial, a judge ruled Wednesday.

After hearing testimony over two days from law enforcement officials, Judge Stephanie Sontag ruled there was sufficient if circumstantial evidence for Timothy John Cook to be tried on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Omar Medina, and Derrick Spurgeon to stand trial for being an accessory to murder.

Medina’s family reported him missing on Oct. 7, 2017, after not hearing from him since Sept. 30. His remains were located Oct. 12. Cook, 52, and Spurgeon, 38, were arrested Dec. 13, 2017.

Medical examiners said Medina had been stabbed over 60 times. Cook is suspected of killing Medina, while authorities suspect Spurgeon drove the boat used to dump the barrel.

After Sontag announced her decision, both men were arraigned on their respective charge and pleaded not guilty.

Earlier, prosecutor Cherie Somerville said Cook “had financial information” on Medina, then his roommate, based on pictures found on Cook’s cellphone. She added that Cook had tired of Medina’s sloppy household behavior.

Cook’s attorney, Kara Oien, asked Sontag to dismiss the charge against her client, as the state hasn’t “proven probable cause that Cook killed Medina.”

Spurgeon’s attorney, Roland Haddad, asked that the accessory charge be dropped against his client. To claim Spurgeon was an accessory after the fact, the state needs to prove that Cook committed a felony and Spurgeon knew that, Haddad said.

Part of Wednesday’s testimony dealt with how much money Medina had left over from an $80,000 settlement. Chula Vista Detective James Petray told the court that Cook’s brother, Greg — with whom Medina worked — knew about the settlement and told authorities that Medina distanced himself from colleagues and started frequenting casinos.

Chula Vista police Officer Joel Monreal reviewed a series of Sept. 26 text messages between Timothy and Greg Cook. In one of them, Timothy Cook wrote that Medina used a sock as toilet paper. Timothy Cook also texted that he told Medina “not to be super [expletive]-up” when meeting with another person over a possible DJ opportunity.

Monreal also testified that Medina’s mother, Alicia Romero, never heard from her son after Sept. 29, but stopped by his residence on McIntosh Street in Chula Vista to check on him. She also told police that before he disappeared, Medina called her, “wanting to tell her something about Timothy Cook,” Monreal said.

During the hearing, Somerville played numerous video surveillance clips showing a green Ford F-150 backing a small Bass Tracker boat into the Chula Vista Harbor on Oct. 11, and that same truck stopping at a convenience store in El Cajon. A barrel was inside the truck bed.

Footage from inside the store showed a man wearing a maroon shirt and green baseball cap, with visible tattoos on his arms. The man was also carrying a gallon of water.

Chula Vista Officer LeVar Brown identified the man as Timothy Cook, based on photos of him taken by Chula Vista police during the investigation.

Brown also said a Samson Galaxy cellphone contained photos of Timothy Cook’s bedroom. His bed had a brown blanket, one that matched the blanket found in the barrel that held Medina’s remains.

Sontag set Oct. 1 as the trial date.