Santee brothers arrested in fatal beating of homeless man

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SAN DIEGO — Two brothers were behind bars Friday on suspicion of fatally beating a homeless man in an East County riverbed.

Austin Larry Mostrong, 20, and 19-year-old Preston Autry Mostrong allegedly attacked 50-year-old George Lowery in the area of Chubb Lane and North Magnolia Avenue in Santee on Sunday evening, authorities reported.

Lowery’s wife, who lived with him in a nearby makeshift encampment, found him unconscious in the river bottom, suffering from severe trauma to his upper body. The victim also had been robbed, sheriff’s Lt. Kenneth Nelson said.

Lowery was admitted to Sharp Memorial Hospital in grave condition and was pronounced dead four days later, Nelson said.

Investigators 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. Austin Mostrong was arrested after that incident.

The suspects, who live in Santee, were booked into San Diego Central Jail on Thursday night. They were expected to face charges of murder, assault, torture and kidnapping. The kidnapping charge stems from detectives’ belief that the victim was moved a short distance against his will during the crime.

The lieutenant would not say why the brothers were accused of torturing Lowersy and would not comment on what had been stolen from the victim, other than to say it was “nothing of any value.”

The suspects were being held without bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Monday afternoon.