David Munoz Diaz's San Francisco rap sheet is a long one, beginning with a fatal choking in which he burnt his victim's body, as well as a series of arsons in the Castro district. And now he's behind bars yet again, this time following a mysterious physical altercation.
It was 2 a.m. on June 10, 2011 when the now 27-year-old Diaz met 23-year-old Freddy Canul-Arguello at the La Tortilla on Castro Street. The duo walked together to Buena Vista Park — long known to be a gay cruising ground and public sex venue — where Canul-Arguello ended up dead, his body badly charred in a melted recycling bin.
Diaz was arrested in the case, with prosecutors arguing that the accused was a rage-filled, closeted man of Mexican descent who turned on his sexual partner, strangled him, and then burned the body in a panicked effort to destroy evidence. According to his defense, however, it was just a case of kinky sex gone wrong. Per a Bay Area Reporter article covering the August, 2014 trial:
Canul-Arguello was giving Diaz head and asked him to choke him, he testified.
"He told me he liked it," Diaz told the court. "He said it excited him and he wanted to cum."
At first, Diaz declined, but he eventually agreed, and put his hands around Canul-Arguello's throat while Canul-Arguello was performing oral sex on him. He told Diaz it "hurt," stood up, got behind him, and showed him how to do it, Diaz said.
"He placed himself behind me and he crossed his arm covering my neck," Diaz testified, holding his right arm across his throat to demonstrate.
Diaz ended up standing behind Canul-Arguello, choking him while playing with his penis near his butt, as Canul-Arguello continued touching Diaz.
He asked to be choked "a little bit harder" and corrected Diaz more than once, Diaz testified.
Then, "at a certain point, he stopped moving," Diaz said. He let go of Canul-Arguello, who fell to the ground, and then tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate him.
Diaz's defense claimed that he placed Canul-Arguello's body into a recycling bin and caught it on fire "to signal for help," then left the scene. He was arrested several weeks later, after allegedly lying to investigators about the night in question. Jurors bought Diaz's defense to an extent, deciding after six days of deliberation that Diaz should be acquitted of second-degree murder, and convicted him instead of involuntary manslaughter, arson, mutilating human remains, and destroying evidence.
Diaz was sentenced to four years and eight months in state prison, but as he'd remained in San Francisco County Jail since his arrest in 2011 and had demonstrated good behavior, he was released from custody in September, 2014. But four months later, he was back in the news again, for allegedly setting yet another fire — this time, however, the target was a structure, not human remains.
It was January, 2015, when Diaz was again arrested, this time after police say that he was recognized from video evidence in an arson fire near his home on 18th Street near Noe Street. According to the BAR, the blaze was at the site of the Up Hair salon, which is located directly above The Mix, a Castro bar owned by Diaz's "longtime partner" Larry Metzger.
Diaz, who had once again remained in SF County Jail since his arrest, was initially charged with "felony counts of arson of an inhabited structure, arson of property, and possession of an incendiary device," the BAR reports. He took a plea deal on September 26 of this year, and was released on "a year of mandatory supervision" and will "have to register as an arsonist for life, wear an ankle monitor for at least the first six months of his supervision, and receive counseling."
At the time, Deputy Public Defender Alex Lilien says that Diaz's release was "a negotiated disposition that hopefully addresses David’s needs and the concerns of the community,” but it appears that things were less successful than Lillen might have hoped. According to the BAR, Diaz was again arrested on Tuesday November 29, this time on suspicion of "assault with force likely to commit great bodily injury, unlawful use of a badge, false imprisonment, mayhem, battery with serious bodily injury."
Circumstances of the incident are unclear, and a message left with the San Francisco Police Department for more information has not been returned at publication time. Most curious (at least, to me) is the "unlawful use of a badge" allegation. Are police saying that Diaz was representing himself as law enforcement? Does that count as irony, or something far worse?
According to the 58-year-old Metzger Diaz had been “hit with a pipe." “He looked pretty bad" and "had stitches on his forehead,” Metzger says, saying that police had ushered him out of Diaz's San Francisco General Hospital treatment room before he could get more information on the altercation.
Since his hospital visit, Diaz has been again booked into San Francisco County Jail. He is being held without bond, the BAR reports, and will appear in court on December 9.