Santee brothers to spend two decades in prison for torture-murder

EL CAJON, Calif. - Two brothers who admitted involvement in the fatal beating of a 50-year-old homeless man in a Santee riverbed were each sentenced Friday to lengthy prison terms.

Mostrong brothers

Austin Mostrong, 22, pleaded guilty in October to second-degree murder in the death of George Lowery and was sentenced to 20 years to life behind bars.

Preston Mostrong, 21, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and mayhem, including an allegation that he caused Lowery to go into a coma, and was sentenced to 24 years in prison.

Both brothers were on probation at the time of the killing.

“There was just no reason to do it. And now, you’re going to suffer and you family’s going to suffer because of what you decided to do. There was no gun to your head to do this. You did it because you wanted to do it. It’s just sickening and disgusting," said Judge Daniel Goldstein.

A third person, Hailey Suder, pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact and had the charge reduced to a misdemeanor.

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

“These guys were serious as a heart attack. They’re fighters -- they’re killers. She isn’t," said Judge Goldstein.

Hailey Suder

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.

“I think about the day you guys viciously took his life and tortured my 50-year-old father. I can hear him begging you to stop," read Deputy District Attorney George Modlin in a statement from Lowery's family.

Defense attorneys said that four days before the fatal attack, the elder 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.