EL CAJON (CNS) - Two brothers accused of fatally beating a homeless man near his makeshift encampment in Santee will stand trial on murder, torture and assault charges, a judge ruled Friday.
Austin Larry Mostrong, 21, and Preston Mostrong, 20, are charged in the death of 50-year-old George Lowery.
Judge Lantz Lewis denied a defense motion to throw out the torture charges.
Defense attorneys argued that their clients acted in self-defense.
A third person, 19-year-old Hailey Suder, is charged with being an accessory after the fact.
Deputy District Attorney George Modlin said both defendants made statements that placed them at the crime scene on April 24, 2016. Preston Mostrong admitted striking Lowery and throwing him into the weeds, tied up, the prosecutor said.
Lowery's wife, who lived with him in a nearby makeshift encampment, found him unconscious in the river bottom in the area of Chubb Lane and North Magnolia Avenue, suffering from severe trauma to his upper body. The victim also had been robbed, sheriff's Lt. Kenneth Nelson said. Lowery was taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead four days later.
Four days before the beating, Austin Mostrong's paintball or pellet gun was taken in a confrontation near the homeless camp, defense attorneys said.
The night before Lowery was attacked, Austin Mostrong said he was going to go get his guns back, according to Deputy District Attorney George Modlin.
Modlin said both defendants were on probation at the time of the alleged assault -- Preston Mostrong for a theft-related case and Austin Mostrong for a misdemeanor assault charge and delaying an officer. They each could face 25 years to life in prison plus an additional life term if convicted.