Man who strangled grandmother in Her Alpine mobile home sentence - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Man who strangled grandmother in Her Alpine mobile home sentenced to life without parole

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EL CAJON (CNS) - A man convicted of the financially motivated robbery and strangulation death of his 73-year-old grandmother in her Alpine mobile home was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Brandon Hayes, 29, was convicted in August of first-degree murder, and jurors found true the special circumstance allegations of murder committed in the course of a robbery and burglary in the May 16, 2009, death of Eunice Cothron.

Hayes' friend, 22-year-old Jeffrey Carl Reed, was convicted of the same charges and will be sentenced Nov. 1. Reed also faces life in prison without parole.

Prosecutor Kurt Mechals said the defendants, both drug addicts, wanted money and forced their way into Cothron's home, strangled her, then robbed her before partying on the proceeds.

Hayes had alienated all of his family members except Cothron, but even she took out a temporary restraining order against her grandson about a month before her death, Mechals said.

Defense attorney Bart Sheela conceded that Hayes killed his grandmother but maintained 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.

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 went to Alpine the day of the killing so Hayes could retrieve his birth certificate, which he wanted for easier travel to Mexico and 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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