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Brothers admit beating homeless man to death

Preston Mostrong (left) and Austin Mostrong (right) pleaded guilty to beating a homeless man to death.

EL CAJON, Calif. — Two brothers who beat a homeless man to death near his makeshift encampment in a Santee riverbed pleaded guilty Friday to murder, mayhem and manslaughter charges.

Austin Mostrong, 22, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of George Lowery and will be sentenced to 20 years to life in prison on Jan. 12. Austin Mostrong also pleaded guilty to assaulting a separate victim.

Preston Mostrong, 21, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and mayhem, including an allegation that he caused great bodily injury to Lowery and caused him to go into a coma. The defendant will be sentenced to 24 years in prison on the same day his older brother is sentenced at the courthouse in El Cajon.

A third person, Hailey Suder, is charged with being an accessory after the fact.

Deputy District Attorney George Modlin said both Mostrong brothers made statements that placed them at the crime scene on April 24, 2016. Preston Mostrong admitted striking the 50-year-old Lowery and throwing him into the weeds, the prosecutor said.

Lowery’s wife, who lived with him in a makeshift encampment in the riverbed, found him face-down, hogtied and unconscious under a piece of plywood in the area of Chubb Lane and North Magnolia Avenue, suffering from severe trauma to his upper body. Lowery, who had also been robbed, was pronounced dead four days later.

Defense attorneys said that four days before the fatal attack, Austin Mostrong’s paintball or pellet gun was taken in a confrontation near the homeless camp.

The night before Lowery was attacked, Austin Mostrong said he was going to go get his guns back, Modlin said.