The jury declined to find him guilty of murder, opting instead for an involuntary manslaughter conviction (as well as mutilating human remains, misdemeanor destruction of evidence, and arson.)
What started off as a fairly ordinary encounter between two acquaintances in the bushes turned ugly when Canul-Arguello’s stated desire for erotic asphyxiation led to his strangulation. As SF Gate reported
, the mutilation occurred when a panic-stricken 22-year-old Diaz dragged the body to a recycling container and lit it on fire as a call for help, He also pulled a fire alarm and called the cops several times. Public Defender Jeff Adachi says justice has been served, although the District Attorney’s Office disagrees.
It took the jury a full six days to come to its conclusion, and, as SFist noted
, the trial was fairly lurid. Jurors got to hear all about how the pair couldn’t have anal sex after meeting up at 2 a.m. because they had no condoms, as well as details of Canul-Arguello’s penchant for being choked while masturbating. Meanwhile, the prosecutors’ case hinged on depicting Diaz as an angry, self-hating closet case (while, perhaps, playing on fears of Latino gang violence, as Diaz is Mexican-born.)
Had Diaz not desecrated the evidence and fled the scene after calling the fire department, his case might have been stronger. He and Canul-Arguello had been friends and occasional sexual partners for some time, and there was no apparent motive for murder. Nor is it really the type of crime that should lead the LGBT community to fear for its safety.
In light of the recent assault and killing
of Radical Faerie Feather Lynn (born Bryan Higgins) on August 12, the Diaz case reveals the difficult situation gay men might face when confronted with the law. A violent death in the gay ghetto is shocking in its own right and has added to the chorus of voices pointing out how unsafe the Castro can be
. But a murkier case of kinky sex gone wrong threatened to put the salaciousness front and center. It’s the precise type of random incident some might rather sweep under the carpet, because of the potential to ignite titillating tabloid lusts over gay sexual pathologies. That it largely didn’t is quite impressive.
Rightly or wrongly, the LGBT community can be sensitive to institutional homophobia and its influence on the justice system. San Francisco is, after all, the home of the Twinkie Defense
. If Higgins’ still-unknown killer is tried and convicted, it will go a long way towards healing that enduring wound.
Justice for Freddy Canul-Arguello may or may not have come in the form of incarceration for his erstwhile lover and accidental killer, but the relative absence of panic about kinky sex in the park is a bit of justice for all.
A verdict has been reached for David Munoz Diaz, who killed his sexual partner, Freddy Canul-Arguello, in June 2011 and left his burned body in Buena Vista Park, where it was discovered by firefighters.