Detective Gary Siegel took the stand Tuesday, June 15, to discuss the gang involvement of the defendants in the murder trial of Lorenzo Carachure. Being charged are Ruben Mize, Bryan Medinilla, Ricardo Nava, and Raul Diaz, all of whom are on trial for murder – Mize is also being charged with other offenses. The four also face charges of being active participants in a criminal street gang, the focus of Tuesday’s testimony from Siegel.
In February of 2008, a red notebook with the moniker “Chiko” written on it was allegedly seized from Mize’s residence. Siegel said that in the notebook were 23 to 30 pages of lyrics, and Mize’s gang name, Chiko, was written throughout the book. The detective expressed his opinion that the writing is a match to the defendant’s, and believes that the notebook and rap lyrics belong to Ruben Mize. “I’ve learned that a lot of the songs are based off of true events,” said Siegel, explaining that many of the writings discuss violent acts and assaults, as well as promote the Eastside gangs. Lyrics in the notebook included “step up, you’ll get stuck,” and “filling up the mortuaries, making families go insane” – lines that Siegel listed, exemplifying the sentiment of Mize’s rap songs.
Joseph Allen, Mize’s attorney, argued the possibility that some of the writing was not authored by Mize, but had the potential to have been written by his brother, Robert Martinez, who is also an Eastsider and rap artist. The first few lines of one of the songs allegedly appeared to be written slightly differently than the rest of it. The question at hand is “if this was authored by Ruben Mize, or by someone else in his house,” stated Allen. Siegel referred to letters written by Mize in which he allegedly began with neater handwriting, but as the writing progressed, the lettering became messier. The handwriting of Robert Martinez is also noticeably different from that of his brother, said the detective, who after having examined samples of the brothers’ handwriting concluded that it was not Robert Martinez who wrote the lyrics in question.
Allen also brought attention to the fact that the writings were not dated, and thus there was no way of knowing when they were authored – which according to the judge is the most relevant issue. Detective Seigel remained on the stand to provide a history of police-documented gang involvement or affiliation for each of the four defendants. His account included field contact, reports, Myspace profile information, writings, and letters sent while in jail. Siegel also gave his opinion on whether the defendants were or were not members of the Eastside active criminal street gang on July 16, 2007, the date of the alleged Carachure homicide.
The first person to be discussed was Raul Diaz, who Siegel first met in the context of his brother, a gang member in the early 2000s. Diaz’s own involvement with gang activities, that police were aware of, began in 2006 when he was arrested for a gang fight on Ortega Street, said Siegel. This was the first of multiple gang fights Diaz was allegedly involved in that resulted in police contact. When he was arrested in 2007, Diaz was in possession of some writings that stated “the best thing in my life is backing up the Traviesos gang,” said the detective. In the past Diaz allegedly admitted that he was an active participant of a criminal street gang, and committed a crime for the benefit of Eastside, and in a gang registration he listed himself as being a member of the Eastside Traviesos.
Next to be discussed was Ricardo Nava, who Siegel said he became aware of in 2004 when his mother filed a missing persons report, stating he hangs out on the Eastside. In 2005 Nava was allegedly involved in a gang-related assault with a deadly weapon, alongside Eastside gang members, and later that year he admitted Eastside affiliation. Nava was part of a vehicle pursuit, during which a gun was thrown from the car, said Siegel. In 2008, the defendant allegedly admitted to being involved in the incident as an Eastside Traviesos active gang member. When asked about Nava’s gang status on July 16, 2007, Siegel answered “yes, I believe he was an active participant of an Eastside criminal street gang.”
Bryan Medinilla was first known to Siegel in 2007, at which time he had that moniker “Ghost.” In 2006, he allegedly posted pictures on the social networking site Myspace of himself with Eastside gang members throwing gang signs. Siegel said that on the page there was also text reading “Eastside” and “Evilside.” On more than one occasion Medinilla was found in a vehicle with gang members as a passenger, one of which contained a knife and marijuana, alleged Siegel. In 2007 Medinilla admitted being a gang member, said the detective. Medinilla said that September 14 would be the one-year anniversary of when he was jumped in.
Medinilla also allegedly got into a fight with a Westside gang member at El Puente School, which was suspected to be rooted in gang conflict – suggesting the defendant’s gang affiliation. In a letter, Medinilla wrote “I’m not trippin homie, this is the game I chose to play,” said Siegel, and the letter was signed “Lil Gangster.” He also wrote to an older Eastside gang member while in jail, signing the letter “your true homie, Bryan, Lil Gangster,” said the detective. Siegel told the court that he believes on July 16, 2007, Bryan Medinilla was an active participant of a criminal street gang.
The defendant’s histories as recorded by the police concluded with Det. Siegel’s presentation of documentation regarding Ruben Mize. The first report against Mize was an alleged assault with an Eastside gang member in 2003. Mize admitted that he was jumped into the Traviesos at age 13, and his moniker was “Chiko” said detective Siegel. Over the years Mize was allegedly involved in multiple gang fights and frequently threw gang signs. In 2004 Mize and his brother Robert Martinez were identified by a car theft victim, and Mize later admitted to being in the vehicle but refused to list names, not wanting to be a rat, said Siegel.
The defendant was allegedly often found associating with Eastside gang members and while in jail sent letters to known gang members. Detective Siegel told that court that in one 2008 letter to Mario Hernandez, an Eastside gang-member, Mize wrote “I could care less about what happens, this is how I chose to live. We need more little homies because I don’t want our hood to die out because they took away all the solid homies.” These records “show that he is associated with other gang members, has admitted to being a gang member, and is involved in gang-related activities,” said Siegel.