Past catches up to reformed gang member

SANTA BARBARA – In the end, an ex-Santa Barbara gangbanger may have left the life too late.

Jacob Medina was a 16-year-old Eastside Santa Barbara gang member on Sept. 7, 2007 when he and two other teens attacked a rival Westsider and left him for dead, bleeding profusely from more than 30 stab wounds.  Now 20 years old, Medina pleaded no contest May 2 to a charge of attempted murder and has been sentenced to 15 years in state prison.

Medina was not arrested for the assault for more than two years, and reportedly left the gang life and his street name of “Syko” behind in order to make personal changes of a positive nature. But on Nov. 4, 2009, at the conclusion of an inter-agency operation, Santa Barbara police spokesman Lt. Paul McCaffrey announced to the media that “detectives obtained credible information concerning the specific identity of the attackers.”

Medina was arrested the same day, by which time he was 19 years old, leading to his being charged with attempted murder as an adult in spite of being only 17 at the time of the stabbing.

At his May 2 sentencing hearing, a number of community sponsors and Santa Barbara City College counselors informed Judge Frank Ochoa that Medina had been attending college and mentoring other at-risk youth. In contrast, lead prosecutor Hans Almgren presented photos of Medina flashing gang signs and recently socializing with known gang members.  Balancing the conflicting characterizations of Medina, Judge Ochoa commented that Medina had indeed apparently made positive changes in his life, but added: “It is unfortunate that the defendant did not commit himself to those changes prior to his crime.”

Medina was then sentenced by Ochoa to five years for attempted murder with an additional 10 years as a gang enhancement. Medina was immediately remanded into the custody of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department and booked into county jail.


Skip to content