Jurors deliberating charges related to the death of a man in San Francisco’s Buena Vista Park in 2011 asked Thursday, August 21, to take another look at a melted recycling bin that was found with the man’s charred body.
David Munoz Diaz, 25, is accused of intentionally choking to death Freddy Canul-Arguello, 23, during a sexual encounter in the park June 10, 2011. Canul-Arguello’s body was found in the park just before 5 a.m. that morning. Diaz, who was arrested six weeks later, is charged with murder, arson, mutilating human remains, and destroying evidence.
After almost three weeks of testimony, jurors got the case Monday, August 18.
At about 10:30 a.m. Thursday, the bin was wheeled in to the room where the jury is deliberating at the Hall of Justice, 850 Bryant Street.
One side of the bin is almost completely melted away. Twigs and dirt are stuck to part of what’s left. The receptacle had briefly been shown in court earlier this month.
Diaz, who’s been in custody since his arrest, testified through a Spanish interpreter last week that he and Canul-Arguello had met up in the Castro just hours before the death, decided to have sex, and walked to the park.
They performed oral sex and other acts on each other, and Canul-Arguello asked to be choked, Diaz said. He said he eventually agreed, then noticed at some point that Canul-Arguello had stopped moving. He unsuccessfully tried to revive him, he said.
“I was frightened,” Diaz testified. “… I didn’t know what to do. I was really nervous.”
He said he moved the bin close to Canul-Arguello’s body and lit a fire in it to signal for help.
Deputy Public Defender Alex Lilien has repeatedly called the case “a terrible accident.” Assistant District Attorney Danielle Douglas said in her closing arguments Monday that Diaz killed Canul-Arguello after he “did something that caused the defendant to go into a rage,” and then intentionally burned the body.
Based on court testimony, the container had been on top of Canul-Arguello’s body when he was found. While discussing Canul-Arguello’s burns and other factors, Fire expert Jeff Campbell testified about the possibilities of the container having been placed on top of Canul-Arguello or near him, with the bin falling over on top of him, among other scenarios. Campbell said Canul-Arguello’s body had not been placed inside the 32-gallon receptacle.