SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A man who fatally bludgeoned a transient with a rock near his encampment in Hillcrest because the victim had previously testified against him in a grand theft case was sentenced Wednesday to 19 years to life in state prison.
Joshua James Larson, 38, was convicted Sept. 21 of second-degree murder in the death of Jason Huggins.
Witnesses who lived in the homeless camp near the 1300 block of Washington Street identified Larson as being in the camp looking for Huggins the day of the attack.
"This was a crime of revenge," said Deputy District Attorney Makenzie Harvey.
Huggins walked out of a gorge near his camp on June 22, 2011, 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 worsened and he died two weeks later. 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 was also convicted of assault with a deadly weapon for 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 at Meza and later fought with Huggins, Meza testified.
Harvey said Larson had a motive to attack Huggins, who had testified against the defendant in a 2009 case in which Larson was convicted of taking the victim's wallet.
A cousin said Huggins became homeless after moving from Tennessee to San Diego.
Larson -- who was also convicted of threatening a witness -- was on probation for the grand theft conviction and a drug sales charge at the time of the murder, the prosecutor said.