EL CAJON, Calif. (KGTV) - Two men who pleaded guilty to beating a homeless man to death near a Santee riverbed in 2016 were sentenced Friday.
Austin Mostrong, 22, pleaded guilty in October 2017 to second-degree murder in the death of 50-year-old George Lowery on April 24, 2016. He also admitted to assaulting another victim.
Austin Mostrong's brother, Preston, 21, pleaded guilty at the same hearing to manslaughter and mayhem, and to an allegation that he caused great bodily injury to Lowery and caused him to go into a coma.
A third person, Hailey Suder, was convicted of being an accessory after the fact. Police said she hid in the brothers' truck during the attack.
"The fact of the matter is, you guys were out of control. Just completely out of control - not acknowledging for feeling any consequences for your action," the judge said Friday.
"To beat down an elderly gentleman, I mean, is just the height of weakness. It really is. There was just no reason to do it," he added.
Austin Mostrong was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison and Preston Mostrong was sentenced to 24 years in prison. Preston Mostrong will be eligible for parole after 20 years served.
Suder was sentenced to one day in jail with credit for time served. A judge said Suder's false testimony didn't impact any arrests and that she shouldn't have been interviewed without an attorney present.
Police said the brothers' made statements that placed them at the crime scene in 2016. In those statements, Preston Mostrong admitted to hitting Lowery and throwing him into the weeds.
Lowery's wife, who lived with him in a nearby encampment, found her husband face-down, hogtied and unconscious under a piece of plywood near Chubb Lane and North Magnolia Avenue.
Lowery was suffering from severe trauma to his upper body. He had been beaten so badly his brain had swelled inside his head, causing him to go into a coma. Lowery had also been robbed.
Lowery was placed on life support but died four days later.
Police said the killing stemmed from an altercation days before the attack.
Austin Mostrong's paintball or pellet gun was reportedly taken in an incident near the encampment. Prosecutors alleged Austin Mostrong said the night before Lowery's death that he intended to go back and retrieve his gun.
Police believe Austin Mostrong had targeted random homeless individuals with a paintball gun a week before the murder and Lowery had taken the gun from him.