Sept. 24, 2013
Kit Stolz, OVN correspondent
An eyewitness to a slaying at a party in Meiners Oaks in 2009 testified Tuesday morning that he saw accused killer Alex Medina stab Seth Scarminah repeatedly and then kneel over him and “cut his throat.”
Alexander Gabriel, who was 18 at the time of the slaying, testified that he was standing behind the back porch, urinating, at a late-night party in the 2400 block of Maricopa Highway when he heard the defendant approach Scarminach.
“I finished and I turned around and Alex approached Seth saying, ‘What do you claim?’” Gabriel testified. “Seth said ‘Meiners Oaks.’ Alex said ‘OSL 13’ and they were about to fight.”
Gabriel testified that Scarminach gave him his hat and went with Medina to a driveway to fight, followed by Gabriel and two other partygoers.
“I had seen a lot of fights and was expecting a regular fight,” Gabriel testified. “They started fighting and there were a couple of blows each and then within 10 seconds I saw Alex make a stabbing motion. I saw a shiny thing and I knew it was a knife. Seth dropped to the ground and Alex got on top of him and cut his throat.”
Gabriel, a witness for the prosecution, testified that the knife resembled a kitchen knife from his home. In cross-examination, defense attorney Scott Wippert brought out that Gabriel witnessed a confrontation between Medina and Scarminach at a party earlier in the evening, in which he saw Scarminach standing outside the party wearing a red bandana pulled up over his face and, in response to a challenge from Medina, that he “might have” made a gang sign.
A witness earlier in the day, Garrett Gross, also testified that he saw Scarminach earlier in the evening wearing a red bandana over his face, and acting “strange,” with “slurred speech and slow motions,” as if on drugs. He said that he saw Medina come in and ask, “Where you from?” Gross said that when he answered, “Ojai,” Medina shook his hand, but that when Medina asked Scarminach the same question, Scarminach said, “I don’t need to answer to you,” and the two went outside, but were prevented from fighting by other partygoers.
During cross-examination Tuesday afternoon, Wippert questioned conflicts between Gabriel’s testimony in court and what he told detectives after the slaying, including that he had not seen Medina with a knife. Gabriel indicated that he was scared of retaliation “from both sides,” from Medina’s gang, Ojai Sureños Locos (OSL), if he testified, and from the Demons, an outlaw motorcycle club in Ventura, or from the Hell’s Angels, if he did not.
Gang culture and rap lyrics were also featured in testimony Monday. The trial opened with the prosecution playing for the jury a rap by Medina, who in a cell phone recording claimed — in a reference to the penal code for homicide — that OSL would “187,” or kill, their rivals.
Monday morning, Scarminach’s voice could also be heard rapping in the courtroom. In response to questions from defense attorneys, Steven Jenkins, a gang investigator for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, revealed that Scarminach posed with weapons and gang colors in internet postings and, like Medina, recorded songs referencing violence and drugs.
Wippert played Scarminach’s rap and repeated it in a question for the sake of the jury. “Let me grab my Smith and Wesson, .357, teach you a lesson,” he said, quoting Scarminach’s lyrics.
“What do you think that means in a gang context?” Wippert asked Jenkins.
“That means that me and my gang, we’re armed with guns, and we mean business,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins had previously testified that Medina was a member of the OSL gang and was embroiled in an ongoing conflict with other groups in Ojai, including one called the Meiners Oaks Boys (M.O.B.). Jenkins said M.O.B. were not a criminal street gang as defined by state law, but in all other respects “behaved like a gang.”
Jenkins, who was put on the stand as an expert witness by the prosecution, said that Scarminach was associated with M.O.B., but was not, to his knowledge, a member of the group. In questions to Jenkins, Wippert suggested that Scarminach was being groomed to join the Demons, a motorcycle gang.
Jenkins refuted the suggestion, saying that although Scarminach did have a relative in the Demons and was photographed posing in front of Demons gang signs, he did not have a motorcycle, did not have the ability to pay dues to the Demons, and identified himself as a member of the M.O.B. group by flashing gang signs and rapping. “Outlaw motorcycle gang members do not throw gang signs,” Jenkins said. “I’ve never heard of rapping in that culture.”
Sept. 24, 2013