This verdict must come as some relief to the family of Joshua Rhoads, who was shot in the head by a man who broke into his mother’s Walnut Creek home in March 2008.
A Contra Costa County Superior Court jury found Nathan Medina, 43, guilty of killing Rhoads, 25, whose family was suing Medina’s over a home construction project, KTVU and Bay City News report.
The jury didn’t buy the defense argument that Rhoads’ mother, Beverly, misidentified the man who forced her and her son to take refuge in the laundry room on March 20, 2008.
As Beverly Rhoads testified during Medina’s trial, an assailant she identified as Medina broke into her Boulevard Way home in Walnut Creek’s Saranap neighborhood. This is after, authorities say, Medina, of Martinez, cut off the electricity. Once in the house, the assailant sprayed Beverly Rhoads in the eyes with pepper spray.
As the Contra Costa Times reported, from Beverly Rhoads testimony: "In the laundry room, Joshua barricaded himself at the door between his mother and the intrude. … The gunman then opened fire, fatally wounding Joshua Rhoads. ...Beverly Rhoads, hiding behind a pile of clothes, managed to call 911, and whisper into the phone: 'It’s Nathan Medina. … He murdered my son. … He doesn't know I'm here. Please help me.'
"Medina broke the laundry-room door in half, reached inside and shot Joshua twice in the head. ... Medina was still searching for Beverly Rhoads when he shot at a Rhoads family friend who lived in a backyard cottage."
During the trial’s opening statements, prosecutor Steve Moawad said that Rhoads’ family had been friends with Medina’s family for more than 20 years. But things between the two families grew contentious when Beverly Rhoads hired a construction company, belonging to Medina’s stepfather, Tony Latteri, to build an addition to her home. According to the Times, Moawad said:
"When more than a year passed, and the proposed four-month project was still unfinished, Rhoads hired another contractor. ... She also filed a civil suit against Medina's stepfather to recover the money she lost. Medina, who had done the electrical work on the Rhoads' addition, took it upon himself to resolve the issue. … Medina didn't expect anyone else besides Beverly Rhoads to be home when he broke into her house with the intention of killing her and burning down the house."
Medina testified in “that he was framed by an unknown person who placed a recently fired gun in his truck on the day of the killing," the Times reported.
Medina's defense attorney, Dirk Manoukian, argued during trial that Beverly Rhoads' initial misidentification of Medina as her son's killer had "tainted the entire investigation," according to KTVU and Bay City News Service. He also said Beverly Rhoads had a history of blaming Medina for bad things that happened to her and that she was obsessed with the lawsuit over the construction project. Manoukian added that there were no fingerprints, fibers or DNA linking Medina to the attack.
Manoukian told reporters after the trial that he had great sympathy for what the Rhoads family has gone through. "It's a difficult, sad case all the way around," he said. But, he added, Medina's family stands by him and “will pursue any legal avenue they can to reverse the conviction.”
Medina faces 50 years to life in prison.