SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A man accused of bludgeoning a transient with a rock near the victim's encampment in Hillcrest because the victim had previously testified against him a robbery case must stand trial on murder and other charges, a judge ruled Thursday.
After a two-day preliminary hearing, Superior Court Judge Laura Parsky found that enough evidence was presented for 37-year-old Joshua James Larson to proceed to trial in the death of Jason Huggins.
According to court testimony, Huggins walked out of a gorge off the 1300 block of Washington Street on June 22 and flagged down a passing motorist. He was only able to tell the driver he had been beaten on the head with a rock.
Medics took the 31-year-old victim to a trauma center, where his condition deteriorated and he died July 6.
A deputy medical examiner said Huggins had a fractured skull and brain injuries caused by blunt force trauma to the left side of his head.
Larson also faces an assault with a deadly weapon charge for allegedly hitting Huggins' friend, Nathan Meza, in the face with a rock.
Meza testified that he and Huggins had seen Larson on the street and at a McDonald's restaurant the day of the attack.
When Meza and Huggins arrived back at their tent, Larson appeared and threw a rock and Meza and later fought with Huggins, Meza testified.
Deputy Public Defender Peter Will argued that Meza's testimony was "deceptive" and not truthful.
Prosecutor Makenzie Harvey countered that Larson had a motive to attack Huggins, who had testified against the defendant in a 2009 robbery case in which Larson was found guilty.
Witnesses who lived in the homeless camp also identified Larson as being in the camp and looking for Huggins the day of the attack, Harvey said.
The defendant faces life in prison if convicted. He will be back in court Oct. 27 for arraignment in Superior Court.
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