The motives for two “cold case” murders in Chula Vista and National City were gang-related and a third murder resulted from one alleged killer’s annoyance at a man who was dating his sister, according to court testimony.
The preliminary hearing for Jose Luis Valdez, 31, and John Paul Reyna, 31, ended last week with Valdez being ordered to stand trial in all three slayings. Reyna was ordered to stand trial in the 2005 murder of Daniel “Traps” Rodriguez, 20, who lived in South Bay.
Valdez is accused of being the triggerman in all three slayings that include Joseph Medina, 22, in Chula Vista on Dec. 11, 2002, and Francisco Chaires, 22, in traffic in National City on July 6, 2003. Family members of all three victims attended the hearing.
El Cajon Superior Court Judge John Thompson ordered Valdez and Reyna to next appear in court July 29 to set a trial date. The reason the hearing was in El Cajon was because Rodriguez was killed in Alpine.
The driver in all three homicides signed a cooperation agreement with the District Attorney’s office and was relocated in the witness protection program, said DA Investigator Erik Nava.
Rodriguez was shot in the head on Oct. 13, 2005, and left under a bridge at Interstate 8 and Tavern Road in Alpine. Valdez’s cell phone number was found in Rodriguez’s pocket, but Valdez denied he knew him when a deputy called him.
Nava said the witness told him Reyna was “pumped” to have Rodriguez killed as he was not happy about how he treated Reyna’s sister. Nava said Reyna didn’t like Rodriguez hanging around with her.
The plan was to pick Rodriguez up and go out near an East County casino “and find a place to take him out,” said Nava, according to the witness. Valdez tricked Rodriguez into getting out of the car to look into the trunk and then shot him, said Nava.
The driver agreed to wear a hidden recording device and approached Valdez at a tattoo shop where he worked on March 26, 2013. Somehow, the driver got into a conversation about all three murders, and Valdez said he threw the guns away afterwards.
Valdez told the driver some of Rodriguez’s blood got onto the driver’s car, and he used some of his own urine to wipe out the blood spots and thoroughly washed the car, said Nava. Valdez also said he heard that Rodriguez had been telling others where Valdez lived, which angered him.
On cross examination with Valdez’s attorney, Will Rumble, Nava testified the DA’s office spent $20,000 in re-locating the driver who will testify at the trial. Nava said the DA’s office pays $2,398 per month for rent and food for the driver and his wife.
Nava testified the driver does occasionally get “side jobs” which get him some money, but does not have a regular job. When asked if the driver is a suspect, Nava replied “he was the driver on all three (murders).”
Nava told the judge the driver has “anxiety” about testifying in court and is represented by an attorney. The driver has not been charged with any crime.
Medina, who lived in Chula Vista, was shot in the chest around 11:30 p.m. following altercations with gang members near Belvia Lane. Chaires was shot in the head while he was driving at 10:40 p.m. on West 8th St. He died 20 days later while still in a coma.
Also arrested in 2013 was Rashad Lansing, 34, who has since pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in Rodriguez’s death. Lansing, who remains in jail, will testify in the trial, said Grapilon.
Valdez and Reyna remain in jail on $5 million and $1 million bail respectively, and have pleaded not guilty.