Housemate convicted of murdering man found stuffed in barrel

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SAN DIEGO — A jury Thursday found a man guilty of murdering his housemate, whose body was later found stuffed in a barrel floating in San Diego Bay.

Timothy John Cook, 54, was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of 28-year-old Omar Medina, whose body was found inside the 55-gallon drum floating in the bay on Oct. 12, 2017. Medical examiners said Medina had been stabbed 66 times in the chest, back, neck and head.

The same jury deadlocked 10-2 on an accessory after the fact charge against Cook’s co-defendant, Derrick Spurgeon. A Dec. 19 status conference was scheduled to decide how to proceed with Spurgeon’s case.

Cook is expected to be sentenced on Jan. 6.

Deputy District Attorney Cherie Somerville told jurors in her closing argument that Cook killed Medina on or around Sept. 30, 2017, in the detached room of a home at 526 McIntosh St., where both men resided. The roommates both worked at a scaffolding business for Cook’s younger brother.

Medina’s family never heard from him after Sept. 30, and filed a missing person’s report soon afterward with Chula Vista police. His unlocked car was found about a week later on Oaklawn Avenue, not far from the home he shared with Cook. Numerous belongings, including his computer and guitar, were inside the vehicle.

The prosecutor said that from Oct. 1 through Oct. 7, Cook told his brother he was out of town in Northern California, though he never actually left San Diego County. Instead, Somerville said Cook spent that week cleaning up the crime scene by tearing out portions of the detached room, as well as areas of Cook’s kitchen.

On Oct. 11, Cook asked 40-year-old Spurgeon to assist him in towing the boat from Spurgeon’s home in El Cajon to San Diego Bay, where Spurgeon also helped Cook weigh down the barrel with a makeshift anchor made of wire and cinderblocks, according to the prosecution. The drum was located by another boater less than 18 hours after it was dumped.

Somerville alleged that Cook killed Medina in order to access around $84,000 he had recently received in a legal settlement.

Though trial testimony indicated Cook never accessed Medina’s bank accounts, Somerville said that was simply a cautionary move on his part, as taking the money so soon after the murder would “set off red flags and alarm bells.”

The prosecutor told jurors that Cook had pictures of Medina’s bank statements in his Google account, and also cited text messages between Cook and his brother indicating Cook’s contempt for Medina’s drinking and sloppy household behavior.

Defense attorney Kara Oien said the prosecution was emphasizing Medina’s money and Cook’s dislike of Medina in a reach to find a motive.

“There is no motive. The D.A. wants you to think there’s a motive because there’s no evidence of killing,” Oien said.

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