Chula Vista man disposed of body in barrel but didn't kill him, defense argues

Closing arguments began in trial of Timothy Cook
Posted at 6:00 PM, Nov 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-25 21:02:56-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- An attorney for a man charged with killing a South Bay music producer told a jury that her client took steps to dispose of the 28-year-old’s body out of fear of being accused of the murder, but did not actually carry out the brutal stabbing himself.

Both the defense and the prosecution gave closing statements Monday in the high-profile murder trial of 54-year-old Timothy John Cook.

Cook is charged with killing his Chula Vista housemate, Omar Medina, whose body was found in a 55-gallon drum floating in San Diego Bay in 2017.

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“Just because someone disposes of somebody, or even if they moved a couple things or tried to clean up a couple things, that does not mean the person killed them,” said deputy public defender Kara Oien. “He was trying to avoid the very predicament that we're in today.”

Prosecutors have largely built their case against Cook on evidence of his activities after the murder, saying he launched a “monumental effort” to cover his tracks, clean up blood, and dispose of the body.

Deputy District Attorney Cherie Somerville said cell phone evidence and other records show Cook lied about his whereabouts, and surveillance video shows him and co-defendant Derrick Spurgeon hauling the 55-gallon drum to San Diego Bay.

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Spurgeon is charged with being an accessory for allegedly driving the boat used to dump the victim's body. Cook alone is charged with carrying out the stabbing.

“Hatred, disrespect, and ultimately cold hard cash” motivated the killing, Somerville said.

Prosecutors say Cook was after an $84,000 settlement Medina had been awarded and was tired of his sloppy household behavior.

The defense is expected to finish closing arguments Tuesday, at which point the jury will begin deliberations.