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Friday, September 28, 2012

How Marvin Medina's Perjury Charge Helped ID Wilfredo Reyes' Whereabouts

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 2:48 PM

click to enlarge YUKO SHIMIZU
  • Yuko Shimizu

As described in this week's feature, "Hiding in Plain Sight," Bay Area MS-13 member Elgado Medrano's 2009 arrest for a car theft in South Carolina first hinted that Wilfredo Reyes had hidden away in that state.


If Medrano, along with a couple of other guys, hadn't stolen a car, it's possible Reyes, a second suspect in the 2008 Bologna murders, could have evaded San Francisco authorities for even longer than four years (he was captured in July and is awaiting trial).

But the trail leading to Reyes actually began one step before the car theft, when MS-13 member Marvin Medina perjured himself in a San Francisco courtroom.

Medina was an obvious witness for the prosecution; records showed that he and Reyes exchanged multiple phone calls a few hours before the murders, and that he and Ramos spoke on the phone afterward. Moreover, Medina had been shot earlier that morning, while he was driving through the Mission District with Medrano. The prosecution's theory was that Ramos mistook the Bologna's for the culprits behind the first shooting and fired at them in retaliation.

Medina, though, wouldn't give in during the pre-trial hearing. Because he had been given immunity for an unrelated charge in exchange for his testimony, he could not plead the fifth.

The prosecution asked him if he knew Ramos, the guy in orange sitting at the defense table. "Never seen him in my life," Medina replied.

"Why is your number in his cell phone?" the Assistant District Attorney asked. "Don't know," he answered.

This went on for a while -- the prosecutor showing him pictures of various local MS-13 gang members, and Medina declaring that he didn't know them. Goofy? Slow? Flaco? Coyote?

"No," he said. "To tell you the truth, I don't pay attention. I don't pay much attention to people."

It nearly reached a Lil' Wayne-deposition level of evasiveness when the prosecutor broadened the questions.

What colors are dangerous to wear in San Francisco?

"I don't know," said Medina. "I mean, people say that it's red and blue."

To you, what are Sureños?

"When I first came here, my brother told me that I better be careful because there were gangs," Medina noted.

With the questions going nowhere, the prosecution requested that Medina take off his shirt and show them his back, in an adjacent private room. After a back-and-forth between the defense lawyer and the judge, Medina went into the adjacent room and removed his shirt, revealing an "MS-13" spread across his back.

The DA's office charged him with numerous counts of perjury. These charges required a separate hearing, and for that hearing, prosecutors subpoenaed ... Elgado Medrano.

And so the search for Medrano began. SFPD officers would locate him a few weeks later.

It was that subpoena that formed the original basis for Medrano's extradition from South Carolina. For the next two years, as the court proceedings dragged on, he would locked in a jail cell, as a flight risk. South Carolina officials, not eager to pay for Medrano's return trip, eventually dropped the car theft charges.

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Albert Samaha

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