Night people of San Marcos

“You can’t bring a knife to a fist fight.”

Site of the public park where it all went down.
  • Site of the public park where it all went down.

It was “righteous self-defense” against a known gang member and not assault with a deadly weapon, as charged by the State, says the attorney for a man we’ll call “Rod.”

Rod and his attorney were in court on December 13 to hear evidence about a dangerous confrontation that happened the night of November 26, 2018.

There was one witness, a “Miss Rincon”, who described in court what she saw in a San Marcos park that Monday night, about midnight, and on into Tuesday morning.

Defendant “Rod” listens during a preliminary court hearing at which he was ordered to stand trial for assault with a deadly weapon.

Defendant “Rod” listens during a preliminary court hearing at which he was ordered to stand trial for assault with a deadly weapon.

Photograph by Eva Knott

Miss Rincon said it was her habit to spend the night in the public bathrooms at Richmar Park, at the corner of Firebird Lane and Richmar Avenue, around the corner from the busy San Marcos intersection of Twin Oaks Valley and Mission Roads. She said it was for her own safety because, “I was homeless.” That night, she was newly out of jail. “I had just gotten released.” She was in and out of jail because her mother had a restraining order against her, and Miss Rincon sometimes got picked up for contempt of court.

Miss Rincon is 49 years old, 5 feet 7 inches tall, and 220 pounds. She was surprised when she approached the brick restroom building that night, because there was a man there, holding open the door to the women’s. That man demanded of her, “Where you from?” Miss Rincon knew that was a gangster phrase, a declaration of territory, and it could be a dangerous challenge. And then she recognized him as someone she had seen before, a man she knew as “Marcos.”

Evidence photo of bloody knife recovered

Evidence photo of bloody knife recovered

Previously, Marcos had told Miss Rincon that he is one of the founders of the Wolfpack, a street gang which claims San Marcos. Authorities say that gang has committed murders and other serious crimes. Miss Rincon said, “They get kids on drugs and sex trafficking.”

So when she saw him in the park, she knew, “Marcos was just patrolling the place. Marcos was questioning me about where I was staying, ‘cause I stay in the bathroom at night.”

And then Marcos told her “that he was looking for Rod, that Rod is a rat.”

Strangely enough, the man she knew as Rod soon walked up and joined the encounter there. Miss Rincon knew him, “Rod watches out for me, when I’m out there.” Rod said to her, “Do you know this guy? He tried to burn my house in Fallbrook!”

She heard Marcos say to Rod, “Come on, punk, I’ll burn your house down again!”

“Miss Rincon,” who is homeless, was looking to bed down for the night in the public restrooms at Richmar Park. Instead she was a witness to a stabbing.

“Miss Rincon,” who is homeless, was looking to bed down for the night in the public restrooms at Richmar Park. Instead she was a witness to a stabbing.

When Rod walked up, Miss Rincon saw that Marcos got more agitated; she said he started “bouncing,” and he began walking backwards, and he was saying “What’s up?” to Rod. She observed that Marcos positioned himself away from the park benches and other obstacles.

Rod said to Miss Rincon, “Look! He just won’t stop! He keeps running his mouth! He won’t stop!” She saw Rod walk toward Marcos. She heard Marcos say, “I have something for you!” She took this to mean that Marcos had a weapon. She also heard Marcos say, “I’ll get you when you’re not looking!” She believed that was a serious threat.

Sheriff's detective, Michael Duong, and Judge Blaine Bowman.

Sheriff's detective, Michael Duong, and Judge Blaine Bowman.

Photograph by Eva Knott

Rod is 23 years old, and over six feet tall, and thin. Marcos is 45 years old, and 5 feet 2 inches tall.

“Marcos was talking shit to Rod, like, ‘You fucking rat.’ Rod is like, ‘Yeah! Bring it on! Bring it on!’”

“Marcos swung first.” She said the men had a fistfight, then separated, and Marcos ran to an area and picked up a rock and threw it. “Then Marcos said, ‘I have something for you, come on, I have something for you!’”

When the men were fighting, she thought she heard something hard fall, like a pipe. And then it got silent, and Miss Rincon hid in the women’s bathroom for a little while.

Some seconds later Rod came back to where Miss Rincon was. “He just says he’s in trouble, and to give this to his girlfriend.”

Rod gave Miss Rincon a bloody knife, then left.

There is a 7-ELEVEN across the street from the park in San Marcos

There is a 7-ELEVEN across the street from the park in San Marcos

The surveillance video at the 7-Eleven store across the street from the park showed two men running back and forth in the dark parking lot. This according to testimony of Sheriff’s detective Michael Duong, who collected the video. The detective said there was a shorter man being chased by a taller man; at one point the shorter man tripped over a loading ramp attached to a delivery truck parked there. The taller man was running with one hand up in the air and he was making motions as if he were trying to stab the man in front of him.

The shorter man walked into the 7-Eleven store and told the clerk to phone 911. Inside the brightly lit store he was able to see his own blood, and he collapsed on the floor there.

Later, detective Duong was able to speak to Marcos. The stabbing victim told the cop he was just talking to that woman, getting to know her. And then he saw Rod and he did not want more problems with Rod, that they had had problems in the past. Marcos said he started walking away, toward the 7-Eleven. He said he defended himself, when fists were thrown, and he did pick up a rock to warn Rod. Marcos said he saw that Rod had a silver metal object in his hand, he assumed it was a weapon and then he took off running. Marcos said he was chased in the 7-Eleven parking lot and was stabbed in the back.

Sheriff’s deputy Nicholas Dohmen has been patrolling San Marcos for more than eight years. He got a radio call, at 12:18 am, the early morning minutes of November 27. When he arrived at the 7-Eleven he was assigned to ride in the ambulance with the stabbing victim, they went to Palomar Medical Center. A doctor eventually told the deputy that the victim had a 4-centimeter cut into his upper back, and a collapsed lung, and that the lung had fluid in it.

Deputy Dohmen confirmed that Marcos told him where Rod’s family lives, in which apartment complex he could find Rod’s family. Marcos described it as behind a certain taco shop, and he named those apartments; he even tried to describe for the deputy how he could find the particular apartment where Rod lived, so they could find the stabber.

Marcos has criminal records under different names. One name is Marcos Antonio Sanchez Henderson. On his most recent felony plea-deal forms, one can see that he signed the initials MASH in all the little boxes.

Marcos was born in 1975. His adult criminal career in San Diego County began the year he turned 19, in 1994. That year he was charged with kidnapping and lewd acts on child by a caretaker and sexual penetration by foreign object — but those charges were dismissed two months after they were filed.

In 2006, when he was 31, Marcos was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm; that charge was dismissed too. Six months later he was charged and convicted of transporting marijuana for sale. The next year he pleaded guilty to possession of an opium pipe, he got credit for time served in local jail and was released into unsupervised probation.

In the year 2009, there was a strange fracas between Marcos and his sister Maria; who lived in Escondido at the time. In court files, there is a request she filled out asking for a restraining order against her brother. She wrote that on July 23, 2009, he “Broke into my home stealing laptop, phone, monitor, palm pilot, CDs, then asked for money to get them back. When I went to retrieve items he pulled my hair, stomped on my head, bit my friend and tried to poke my eyes out, jumped into my car trying to make us crash, broke my cell phone.”

Maria described her injuries: “lump on my head, black eye, scratches, friend’s bite marks etc.” She named a witness to the alleged incident.

A criminal case was filed against Marcos; he was accused of assault, grand theft, battery, and burglary. But the entire case was dismissed almost a year later.

Two years ago, in December of 2016, Marcos was accused of maliciously setting fire, burglary, and probation violations. Those charges were dismissed in a plea deal: Marcos admitted resisting police officers; he got credit for 129 days in jail and was released into unsupervised probation again.

In October 2018, Marcos was caught in “possession of nunchaku.” He admitted this on a felony plea form and he was put into three years formal, supervised probation. He was released on November 13, 2018.

On his most recent court paperwork, Marcos listed his home address in the 600 block of Quarry Road, in a rural part of San Marcos. This is five miles north of the park on Richmar Avenue.

The night of the stabbing, November 26, San Diego Sheriff’s detective Michael Duong was surprised and grateful when the witness, Miss Rincon, sought him out. She was anxious to speak with him. She explained that she had recently gotten out of jail, and she was scared because she was handed a bloody knife, and she just threw it in the bushes. She showed the detective where to find the knife.

The detective said in court, “I kinda felt sorry for her, it was cold that night, she was homeless. I was happy she went out of her way to find me, and show me the weapon.”

It was unusual to have such a cooperative witness, in these circumstances.

The detective said he gave her cash, $20, after Miss Rincon spoke with him. A defense attorney late suggested this tainted the validity of the woman’s testimony.

Since the incident, Miss Rincon got arrested again, for violating that restraining order. She testified in court wearing jail blues and was handcuffed to the chains around her waist.

Judge Blaine Bowman ordered Rod 23, to face felony charges at the end of a preliminary hearing on December 13, 2018. The judge found reasonable suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and great bodily injury.

The judge remarked, “The question is whether this is lawful self-defense.”

Judge Bowman stated that if the attacker is no longer able to inflict injury, then the right to self-defense ends. The judge also noticed that Marcos threw the first punch, “but,” he added, “you can’t bring a knife to a fist fight.”

The judge told Rod, “You are lucky you didn’t kill this guy. You should consider yourself fortunate you are not sitting here facing murder charges.”

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