Helena Gudell’s Wonderland: Murder on Social Media

When things happen in our lives we all take to social media. Whether is be friendships that fall apart or good news in our lives. And even times when the ones we love make us mad we take to our twitter feed and blast them 140 characters at a time. Or even go to our Facebook page and say the most horrible things we can about them in a less restricted tirade. In August of 2013 Derek Medina took to Facebook to post about his wife Jennifer Alfonso. But not in the way you would think…

On the morning of August 8th Jennifer was upset with her husband. She started doing what most women do and sent messages to her friend complaining about how much Derek was making her mad. The night before Derek had promised to watch a movie with her but instead chose to sleep. And that morning they argued like most couples with issues do. And Jennifer confided in her friend that she felt like she wanted to leave. She felt like she was always begging her husband for time together. She felt like he was always making excuses as to why they didn’t have any time together. And she was tired of him calling her names. She wanted out. She wanted to go. The friends spoke for a while longer and after Jennifer had calmed down and there seemed to be no further issues in the house, Jennifer went into the kitchen to do dishes. Before she stopped chatting with her friend she told him that Derek had woken up and come int o the room where she was and just walked out without saying a word to her despite the fact that they had been loudly arguing not too long before. Jennifer and her friend said they would chat later and she headed downstairs to do the dishes and that would be the last time anyone but Derek Medina would talk to Jennifer Alfonso.derek medina.jpg

The house had security cameras that recorded the coming and going of everyone there. The actual shooting wasn’t caught on camera, it was just out of frame. But what was caught was Jennifer going into the kitchen, alone. Derek comes in moments later. Neither of them were talking when they entered the kitchen but once in there according to Derek another argument ensues. Its at that point that Derek walks out of the kitchen and goes upstairs to get his .380 and comes back down into the kitchen. With almost little time spent in the kitchen, you see what looks like dust and was determined to be gun powder come flying from the corner of the screen. It was only a couple seconds after Derek comes back downstairs that he ends up shooting Jennifer 8 times. He emptied the magazine of his subcompact .380 handgun. He then calmly walked upstairs and told Jennifer’s 10yr old daughter to stay in her room and keep the door closed and not to come out for any reason. He grabbed a jacket and his phone and went back downstairs. He took a picture of his wife’s lifeless body and walked out of the house. He posted the photo of his wife on Facebook with the caption “Rip Jennifer Alfonso” and then he posted a status that read “Im going to prison or death sentence for killing my wife love you guys miss you guys takecare Facebook people you will see my face in the news’ my wife was punching me and I am not going to stand anymore with the abuse so I did what I did I hope you understand me”derek medina 1.jpg

Derek puts on his jacket and leaves the house. He goes to visit family and say goodbye to a couple family members. His dad then takes him to the police station to turn himself in. Its only then a couple hours after Jennifer was murdered in cold blood that her body is discovered and her daughter is removed from the house under the cover of a red comforter. And while he was with police he started telling them the first thing you learn when you get a permit for a weapon… that you were in fear of your life. He told them that when they were in the kitchen arguing, Jennifer grabbed a kitchen knife and started to try and stab him and he had to remove the knife from her hands. After he removed the knife she started to punch him and the only way he could get her to stop was to shoot her. The only thing that doesn’t make sense is when you are truly in fear of your life you don’t leave the weapon the other person was using within grasp and you don’t leave to get your weapon and come back. Derek attempted to get into the officer’s heads that Jennifer may have been on some type of drugs during their altercation.

Fast forward to the trial that started in Nov of 2015. Typically when I watch a trial and write about it after, I skip the details about the lawyers and their scum tactics because lets face it the constitution says everyone has a right to a defense and they’re innocent until proven guilty. Well this isn’t one of those times. Saam Zangeneh… well he’s a piece of work that I don’t think I can actually put into words. When I watch a trial I try to play devil’s advocate and I really try to just let the evidence to the talking. But Saam is one of those guys that as soon as they open their mouth to say something I already wanted to punch him in the throat. Kick him in the nads. I think at one point in time I considered the 3 hour drive to Miami to tap him with the car. Yea he was that damn bad. He was one of the most arrogant, rude, scum lawyers I have seen in trial watching. He actually had the nerve to interrupt the judge on numerous occasions when she was trying to talk to get his point across.derek medina 2.jpg

Now as I said everyone is entitled by law to a defense. I just think this one could have been a little more believable. The defense as I stated above was self defense. Derek said that over the course of their relationship he had many times suffered abuse at the hands of his petite wife Jennifer. He said that she would constantly hit him and he just couldn’t take it anymore and that combined with her drug use just escalated to a point of no return on that hot summer Miami day. Now here are some flaws in that defense. As I pointed out earlier the main one is that he supposedly took the knife away from Jennifer and then put it in the drawer and walked away. Who does that? In a life or death situation who takes the weapon that someone just tried to use  against them and leaves in it a drawer that can be reached. And then turn around and walk away?! If she was really trying to stab him, what would stop her from going back in the drawer and getting the knife as he was walking away and plunging it into his back as he was going up the stairs? The defense also tried to raise the question of her being on drugs at the time of this incident. Toxicology results showed that there was nothing in her system. They tried to use the fact that she was up cleaning at 7 am as a reason for her to be on drugs and the drug was Bath Salts. Ok lemme stop right here for a second. Have you ever pissed off a Latin woman? I don’t know about anyone else but I know the one thing I do when I am pissed off is clean. That isn’t a sign that I am on drugs. **symptoms of bath salt use are similar to Meth. Stimulated, hallucinations, increased sex drive, paranoia, increased sociability. Other signs are nosebleeds, increased sweating, nausea, weight loss, kidney failure, and dehydration.** Watching the video of the fatal morning Jennifer seemed pretty calm walking into the kitchen. But nonetheless, back to this self defense thing… if you thought your wife was on bath salts and had just tried to stab you with a knife why would you leave the knife there and calmly walk away? Wouldn’t you at least run in the other direction and take the knife with you to make sure that someone who was on drugs doesn’t come after you while you’re running to get your weapon to save your life. And if it was really self defense why didn’t he use the knife against her? If there was a struggle in the kitchen and they were fighting and he really was in fear of his life, why didn’t he take the knife away from her and use it against her. He was training to be a boxer. How is it that he can’t over power her physically? So anyways his defense is battered spouse syndrome. And he had no choice.

Now I have a weapon. I go to the range. I went to the classes to get my concealed carry permit to be able to defend myself if my life is in danger. They don’t tell you to remove the weapon from the other person, go get yours, and then come back and shoot them after the threat has been removed. In this case, Derek was safe. He had walked away from the situation and was away from Jennifer. At that moment, they were both safe. The point that he went upstairs and put the pistol in his hand was the moment he premeditated the death of his wife. The woman he had vowed to love and protect til death do them part in sickness and health for richer and poorer.derek medina 3.jpg

During his trial, Derek often conferred with his lawyers to try and get them to bring in evidence or make suggestions pertaining to what happened that morning. Often angrily giving orders from behind the defense table. These orders often led to long side bars and discussions with the judge outside the presence of the jury. Saam (lead attorney) would anger those watching with his drawn out antics and disrespect for the court. There was an instance that lasted most of the trial where Saam wanted evidence entered that would supposedly show the butt of a knife in one of the paused and blown up surveillance images. Spectators spent the whole trial waiting for their chance to see this image that so many of us missed when we watched the video. But our waiting was for naught as none of us ever saw the shadow that was supposed to be depicted. Now don’t get me wrong, Saam showed some images… claiming that the image showed the shadow of the butt of a knife. But from a spectators point of view I didn’t see a thing. I wasn’t the only one either, there were lots of us discussing the lack of a shadow in the image. This was just one of the many times Saam hung up the court’s time. There was also a point when he was trying to have video evidence of Jennifer’s supposed drug use. The video he was referring to was the police interview in which Derek told the cops she may have been on something that morning and that she had smoked Marijuana in the past. They were also the ones who suggested that the reason she was cleaning was because she was high. They were misinterpreting her messages to her friend as Jennifer saying she had a “boost”. The judge ruled that Jennifer was asking a question of her friend and not admitting to drug use. That didn’t stop Saam and the defense from arguing that til the judge got fed up and finally put a stop to it all. In my years of trial watching I have never seen a defense with so little regard for the court as I did with Saam and his team. It actually took over in my opinion the lack of respect that Jose Baez had during Casey Anthony trial.

But regardless of our views of Saam, he managed to help his client escape a 1st degree murder charge and in the end Derek Medina was convicted of 2nd degree murder. Second Degree Murder means that the jury found the prosecution had not proved premeditation. It does not mean that he is any less guilty than if he had received a First Degree conviction. The difference between the two is simply premeditation. They felt that he still intended to kill Jennifer but didn’t plan it. My issue with this is the law states that premeditation can be formed in an instant. The fact that he went upstairs and grabbed his gun, to me is premeditation. He went up there to get the weapon with the intent to use it. The jury however, didn’t find that to be the case.derek medina 4.png

Jennifer was described by those who knew her as a loving and caring mother. She was a good friend to those who knew her well. And the day she was murdered is a memory that will linger beyond the web pages that still share the graphic picture posted by the person who was supposed to protect her. It is a day that will stay with the family and friends forever. They were all scarred by the image of her lifeless body collapsed on the kitchen floor as if she had been shot on her knees. They will be forced to live life knowing that her last moments were probably filled with extreme fear in what was known to be an abusive and controlling relationship. But they will continue to bring honor to her name and make sure that her daughter knows how much she was loved by her mother. And her poor little girl who was in the house at the time of her mother’s death will forever live with the knowledge that while she was upstairs watching TV, her mother was being gunned down in their kitchen. She was rescued from the house by the police after Derek turned himself in and confessed. They were able to protect her from seeing the site of her mother in the kitchen but unfortunately, thanks to Derek Medina the image lives online with a simple search.

Because of his actions, the jury found him guilty of 2nd degree murder and this past Friday the judge sentenced him to serve a 40-life sentence. More than likely this murderer will never see the world from the outside of jail walls.

Sadly, Derek Medina is not the first to take to social media to confess his crimes. A simple Google Image search reveals that there are many who use the site as an outlet to air their crimes for all to see. Some do it as a way to brag about what they did and others have done it to apologize to those who will be affected. Either way to me they’re all twisted to leave such a lasting mark that their families can never erase.


2 thoughts on “Helena Gudell’s Wonderland: Murder on Social Media

  1. Sickening. It’s hard enough to imagine doing something like this, but to post it on Facebook defies all logic to me.

    Incidentally, it’s bizarre that the prosecution didn’t challenge his affirmative defense of self defense. Self defense ends as a viable defense the second the threat is gone. If he took the knife he alleges she was threatening him with out of her hand, he was no longer in jeopardy. It sounds like the prosecution was not up to the job.

    1. They challenged the defense but there are laws here in FL that make things a little more convoluted than in other states. If the judge had not granted the defense the ability to say that he was defending himself, it could have led to grounds for appeal. Especially since he wasn’t using a “stand your ground” defense which would have been denied due to the fact that he removed the knife from her hand. But anyone could say that they felt threatened and needed to defend themselves.

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