EL CAJON -- A preliminary hearing is scheduled Tuesday for two brothers accused of fatally beating a homeless man near his makeshift encampment in a Santee riverbed.
Austin Larry Mostrong, 21, and Preston Autry Mostrong, 20, are charged with murder and torture in the death of 50-year-old George Lowery.
Deputy District Attorney George Modlin said both defendants made statements that placed them at the crime scene on April 24. 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 rushed to Sharp Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead four days later.
Although a motive was not disclosed, sheriff's investigators said they believe the fatal assault stemmed from a fight the older brother had gotten into with some homeless people in the same general area on April 20. It was unclear if Lowery had been present during that altercation, which left Austin Mostrong under arrest.
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.
A judge will decide after the preliminary hearing whether enough evidence was presented for the defendants to stand trial.