Man found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Buena Vista Park choking death

Courtesy of SFPDDavid Munoz Diaz

Courtesy of SFPDDavid Munoz Diaz

The man accused of murder in the choking death of Freddy Roberto Canul-Arguello in Buena Vista Park in 2011 was instead found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and three other charges, prosecutors said.

After six days of deliberations, the jury found David Munoz Diaz, 25, of San Francisco, not guilty of murder, according to the Public Defender’s Office, but did find him guilty of involuntary manslaughter, arson of the property of another, mutilating human remains and misdemeanor destroying evidence.

Involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of four years incarceration and Diaz has been in custody for more than three years awaiting trial, Public Defender’s Office spokeswoman Tamara Barak Aparton said.

Canul-Arguello’s partially burned body was found in a recycling bin near the tennis courts in Buena Vista Park on June 10, 2011. Police at the time said Canul-Arguello was dead before his body was burned.

Diaz was arrested July 22, 2011, and held on $5 million bail. The version of events that came out in court was that Diaz and Canul-Arguello were known to each other and had previously had a sexual encounter, Aparton said. The two reportedly ran into each other in the Castro and walked to Buena Park to have sex.

At some point, Canul-Arguello was strangled to death and his body was burned by the plastic recycling bin that Diaz had set on fire.

During the course of the trial, the prosecution and defense battled over whether Canul-Arguello’s death was a tragic accident that was the result of a risky sexual strangling experiment or that Diaz became enraged and choked the victim to death on purpose.

Another aspect that drew attention was why Diaz had lit the recycling bin on fire, with his public defender arguing it was a signal fire to call for help and prosecutors saying it was a deliberate effort to destroy evidence.

Regardless, the jury returned a not guilty verdict on the murder charge and guilty verdict on involuntary manslaughter and other charges.

Diaz’s attorney, Alex Lilien, was relieved with the jury’s decision.

“David is a sweet kid who never meant to hurt anyone,” Lilien said. “Freddy’s death was a terrible, tragic accident.”

The District Attorney’s Office, while disturbed with the nature of the way Canul-Arguello’s body was found, feels the jury did its job, according to spokesman Alex Bastian.

“We find it very disturbing that the victim was killed and his body subsequently burned,” Bastian said. “However, we respect the jury’s decision.”Bay Area NewsCrimeCrime & CourtsDavid Munoz DiazFreddy Roberto Canul-ArguelloSan Francisco Public Defender's Office

Just Posted

A felled tree in Sydney G. Walton Square blocks part of a lane on Front Street following Sunday’s storm on Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
After the rain: What San Francisco learned from a monster storm

Widespread damage underscored The City’s susceptibility to heavy wind and rain

Plan Bay Area 2050 is an expansive plan guiding the region’s growth and development over the next three decades. The regional plan addresses progressive policy priorities like a universal basic income and a region-wide rent cap, alongside massive new spending on affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. (Shutterstock)
$1.4 trillion ‘blueprint’ would address Bay Area’s housing, transit woes

Analyzing the big ticket proposals in ‘Plan Bay Area 2050’

A felled tree in San Francisco is pictured on Fillmore Street following a major storm that produced high winds and heavy rains on Oct. 24, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Philip Ford)
Storm updates: Rainiest October day in San Francisco history

Rainfall exceeded 10 inches in parts of the Bay Area

On Sunday, California bore the brunt of what meteorologists referred to as a bomb cyclone and an atmospheric river, a convergence of storms that brought more than half a foot of rain to parts of the Bay Area, along with high winds, concerns about flash floods and the potential for heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada. Much of the Bay Area was under a flash flood watch on Sunday, with the National Weather Service warning of the potential for mudslides across the region. (NOAA via The New York Times)
Bomb cyclone, atmospheric river combine to pummel California with rain and wind

What you need to know about this historic weather event

The Department of Building Inspection, at 49 South Van Ness Ave., has been mired in scandal since since its creation by voter referendum under Proposition G in 1994. (Courtesy
The Department of Building Inspection, at 49 South Van Ness Ave., has been mired in scandal since its creation by voter referendum under Proposition G in 1994. (Courtesy
Whistleblowing hasn’t worked at the SF Dept. of Building Inspection

DBI inspectors say their boss kept them off connected builders’ projects

Most Read