2 men convicted of strangling, robbing grandmother - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

2 men convicted of strangling, robbing grandmother

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EL CAJON (CNS) - Two men were convicted Tuesday of strangling and robbing one of their grandmothers in her Alpine mobile home.

Brandon Hayes, 29, and his 22-year-old friend, Jeffrey Carl Reed, were both convicted of first-degree murder and two special circumstance allegations of murder committed in the course of a robbery and burglary stemming from the death of Hayes' 73-year-old grandmother, Eunice Cothron, on May 16, 2009.

They are facing life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, but no sentencing date was immediately set.

Two juries heard the evidence against the defendants. The panels began deliberations Friday and reached their verdicts Monday afternoon.

"We now have justice and go on with closure," Cothron's niece, Linda Allen, said.

Prosecutor Kurt Mechals said Hayes, a drug addict, strangled Cothron after she obtained a restraining order against him.

Defense attorney Bart Sheela conceded that Hayes killed his grandmother but said he wasn't guilty of murder because he didn't go there to rob her.

Instead, Sheela argued, Hayes strangled and robbed Cothron when she told him that she didn't have his birth certificate.

Hayes' father, Alan, found his mother's body on the kitchen floor.

Mechals said the victim had blunt force injuries to her face, neck and head, bruises on her arms and lacerations to her neck.

Mechals told the jury that Hayes' entire family had disowned him because he consistently stole from them, but Cothron had a soft spot in her heart for her grandson and would give him money and do his laundry.

That all changed in mid-April 2009, when the victim obtained a temporary restraining order against her grandson because he took her car without permission and went through her personal items when he slept over, the prosecutor said.

A sheriff's deputy came upon the defendants at a Shell gas station near the victim's home around 4:30 a.m. the day of the murder and told Hayes the restraining order had become permanent, Mechals told the jury.

After killing Cothron, the defendants stole the victim's car and drove to the border near San Ysidro, Mechals said. The pair spent two days in Tijuana after the slaying, with Hayes spending a lot of money on a personal dancer, the prosecutor said.

Sheela said Hayes and Reed lived in Mexico because it was cheap and they could buy drugs there.

The attorney said the defendants traveled to Alpine the day of the killing so Hayes could retrieve his birth certificate, which he thought his grandmother had in her home.

Hayes initially sent Reed to Cothron's house to get the document, but when she told Reed, "I don't have it," both defendants returned to the mobile home, Sheela said.

When the victim told her grandson she didn't have his birth certificate, his whole world fell apart and he rushed in and killed her, then proceeded to steal her things, Sheela said.

Reed's attorney, Tom Carnessale, said in his closing arguments that Hayes was a "bizarre, deranged" man who threatened Reed with a knife before the two went into Cothron's home.

Hayes and Reed met at a drug rehabilitation facility two weeks earlier and walked away from the program a few days before the murder.

"Jeffrey Reed happened to get mixed up with this guy 10 days before this happened," Carnessale said.

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