The California Supreme Court refused Wednesday to review the case of an “evil” and “depraved” killer convicted of murdering his live-in boyfriend and then dumping the victim’s head and some body parts in Griffith Park.
Gabriel Campos-Martinez, who turns 41 on Thursday, was convicted of first-degree murder for the killing of 66-year-old Hervey Medellin.
When Campos-Martinez was sentenced in November 2015 to 25 years to life in state prison, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Katherine Mader told the defendant that relatives and friends were at a loss because the crime was “so inexplicable, so evil, so depraved,” especially given that the victim “was providing everything for you.”
The two men met while hiking in March 2011 in Griffith Park — the same park where some of the body parts were later discovered — and lived together for about six months in the victim’s Hollywood apartment.
Medellin’s torso was never found, although a DNA profile from the tissue specimens found in March 2014 in the mouth of Bronson Canyon Cave — the so- called “bat cave” shown in the 1960s “Batman” television series — matched the victim’s DNA profile. The cave is less than a mile away from where the other remains were found, according to Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace.
In a March 21 ruling, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that jurors should have been instructed about the “prosecution’s failure to make timely disclosure” of additional evidence linked to the victim.
Medellin’s head was found Jan. 17, 2012, by a dog that was with some hikers. His hands and feet were found the following day. About two years later, three pieces of skin were discovered, with the coroner’s office receiving a report during Campos-Martinez’s trial that the evidence was subsequently linked to the victim through DNA analysis.
Campos-Martinez’s trial attorney argued that he had not had sufficient time to review the evidence with defense experts, but the trial court ruled that the defense had not identified any prejudice that would result from the additional evidence being admitted, according to the three-justice appellate panel.
“Although appellant argues that his defense was impeded, appellant provides no explanation of how the late discovery hindered his defense,” the appellate court justices found in their ruling. “In any event, the additional evidence was duplicative of the original discoveries of the victim’s remains. It consisted of human tissue of the victim which had been buried in a manner similar to the burial of the other body parts.”
The justices noted that the additional evidence reinforced what the other evidence established — “that the victim had been dismembered in a manner consistent with the methods of dismemberment that appellant had researched on his computer.”
The prosecutor said Medellin was likely killed in late December 2011, and died from asphyxiation, although the defense contended that the cause of death should have been listed as undetermined.
Grace told jurors that the “defendant committed a gruesome, callous murder upon somebody who showed him love, gave him shelter, gave him money.”
The prosecutor said computers seized from the residence showed that someone had referenced an article on Dec. 27, 2011, about how to dismember a body, and that the killer “went well out of their way to dismember Medellin’s body.”
“The killer did not want Mr. Medellin to be found,” Grace told the jury.
Medellin’s head was discovered a day after Los Angeles police went to the apartment to inquire about his whereabouts, the prosecutor noted.
The motive may have been a “money grab” with Medellin’s Social Security check being transferred from one banking institution to another where Campos-Martinez had access to the money, or he may have felt like he was being pushed out of Medellin’s life, the prosecutor told jurors.
Campos-Martinez’s trial attorney, Rodolfo Navarro, had urged jurors to acquit his client, arguing the prosecution hadn’t proved its case — which he said was made up of “theories” — beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Theories do not equal proof,” he told the jury, saying there was no evidence that his client had looked at the article on dismemberment, and noting that “not a single drop of blood” was found at the apartment.
Campos-Martinez was arrested in Texas in March 2014 after a lengthy investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department.
–City News Service