Friendship allegedly ended with body in trash

first_imgDeputy District Attorney Stephanie Sparagna populated her case with a cast of characters with such names as Mouse and Irish Mike, building to a chilling scene in which Steinberg’s girlfriend found a blue, city-issued trash can in her Van Nuys storage unit. Encased in bubble wrap, duct tape and plastic, the trash can gave off a foul odor. The girlfriend called the authorities, who cut it open to discover its grisly cargo – a decomposed Walsh. But before he wound up in the Erwin Street storage unit July 2, 2003, Walsh, 37, took up residence in a Chatsworth town house. When he decided to move out, he asked Steinberg to help with his cumbersome, $5,000 sectional couch Jan. 29, 2003. In the early afternoon, then-Deputy Alex Dixon of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was on his way back from lunch to his town house several doors down. He heard a commotion and people yelling from Walsh’s garage, so he got out of his car and walked toward the open door. Before he arrived, Dixon tucked his 9 mm Beretta service weapon into the waistband of his warm-up pants, concealing it beneath his shirt. After a brief conversation with Walsh, Dixon testified Tuesday that he saw Steinberg standing in the garage, firing angry looks in his direction. Steinberg then ran out, gun in hand, and screamed. “He yelled, `Freeze!”‘ Dixon said. “And he started shooting at me.” Steinberg allegedly fired two or three shots as Dixon dove for cover, drawing his pistol and retreating to his own garage. “Why’d you shoot at a deputy?” Dixon recalled Walsh yelling. “Are you crazy?” Dixon called 911 and reported the incident, then went back to his garage, where he ran into Walsh again. “I don’t know that guy,” Walsh allegedly told the deputy. “He was robbing my house.” Steinberg – who witnesses said was friendly and carried a gun in a hollowed-out book – allegedly escaped, shirtless, flagging down some friends who smuggled him out of the police dragnet to his North Hollywood apartment. He was arrested soon thereafter on an unrelated federal charge, got out and settled back into his regular life of crime with his old friend Walsh. On June 23, 2003, the Los Angeles Police Department put out a warrant for Steinberg’s and Walsh’s arrest in the Dixon incident. On June 30, Walsh went missing. The same day, cops arrested Steinberg and discovered signs of violence in his apartment. When Walsh’s body turned up in the trash can several days later, police began to piece together a case they believe reveals that Steinberg killed his friend. They’d been involved in a fraud, identity-theft and drug-dealing enterprise known as “The Crew,” Sparagna said, and Walsh’s irregular behavior led his roommate to shoot him four times with a .22. The Crew, which also included Weaver and co-defendant-turned-witness Tony Shane Wilson, is suspected of running a credit-card scam out of the Studio City apartment where Steinberg allegedly killed Walsh on that same expensive, bulky couch. Later in the trial, which Sparagna said could drag on for months, Wilson will testify that Steinberg admitted to him that he shot Walsh. His testimony already came at a price, she said. After word got out in jail that he was going to testify, he was slashed with a razor blade and left with a wound requiring more than 100 stitches from his ear to his jaw. In his opening statement, Steven Hauser, who is representing Steinberg, sought to shift the blame to Wilson. He portrayed the informant as a desperate, two-strike felon known as “Shankster Gangster” trying to avoid a murder rap. “Mr. Wilson has a most colorful past,” Hauser said. “With swastikas tattooed on his earlobes, he will make a most colorful witness, here in this courtroom.” [email protected] (818) 713-3738160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Somewhere between the time David Steinberg helped Chris Walsh move out of his apartment and the day Walsh ended up shot five times and stuffed in a trash can, their friendship went south. Or so went the dramatic tale that opened Steinberg’s murder trial Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court downtown. Once described by his former attorney as a kiddie gangster, the 39-year-old Granada Hills man is now balding in a rumpled gray suit, accused of executing Walsh, his former housemate, in 2003. The prosecution opened its case against Steinberg and co-defendant Jeffrey Weaver, 37, promising a story involving a member of the Nazi Lowriders prison gang and “people with dark hearts.” The defense shot back that the prosecution’s star witness, an informant known as “Shankster Gangster,” was lying to cover up his own guilt in Walsh’s slaying. last_img

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