More than two years after a man's decomposed body was found floating inside a barrel on the San Diego Bay, the man convicted of killing him was sentenced for second-degree murder.
Timothy John Cook, 52, was sentenced to 56 years to life in prison for the death of 28-year-old Omar Medina, whose body was found with dozens of stab wounds and stuffed inside a 55-gallon drum floating just off the Chula Vista marina on Oct. 12, 2017.
Cook will not be able to be released on probation and was ordered to pay back restitution to Medina's family, who was at the sentencing ready to forgive the man responsible for their loved one's death.
Local news from across Southern California
"I pray that you find healing, restoration. I honestly do, Mr. Cook," Medina's sister, Alicia Villegas said. "It doesn't make me feel good that you're going to prison. I want my brother back. Mr. Cook, I forgive you and it's a decision I make every day when I wake up."
Cook was one of two men charged in connection with Medina's death. He and his co-defendant, Derrick Jefferson Spurgeon, were arrested in December 2017, months after a diver spotted a suspicious plastic barrel with a hazard tag and a wireline attached to it in the water and reported it to authorities.
The barrel appeared to be tied down with cement blocks. Police believe a metal chain may have also weighed it down before it broke loose and surfaced at the marina.
When police pulled the barrel to the shore and opened it, the found a body inside, so badly decomposed that it took the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office about six weeks to identify.
Cook was one of two men charged in connection with Medina's death. The jury could not reach a decision on the accessory to murder charge against Spurgeon, who pleaded not guilty.
Medina was stabbed 66 times. The medical examiner's report documented stab wounds to Medina’s nose, mouth, jaw, scalp and neck as well as his wrists, hands and fingers. There were so many wounds, investigators described them as a cluster.
According to the autopsy report, Medina was able to be identified in part by fingerprints and the tattoo of a five-pointed star on his left ankle.