Man sentenced for fatally stomping 84-year-old to death at North County church

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VISTA, Calif. — A 24-year-old Fallbrook resident who attacked an octogenarian and two other men outside a Fallbrook church, punching two of them and stomping the 84-year-old to death, was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years to life in state prison.

Keith Vasquez pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges of second- degree murder and assault in connection with the Sept. 21, 2016, beating death of Magnus Johnson, as well as the assaults of two other men, ages 62 and 63.

Johnson, who was known as Norm by church members, was remembered as a father, an excellent auto mechanic, an opera lover, and a bonsai tree enthusiast by family members who attended the sentencing.

“I miss him every day. My dad was and always will be my knight in shining armor,” said his daughter Elizabeth Pastman.

The victims told sheriff’s deputies that they were painting the exterior of the Hilltop Center For Spiritual Living when a stranger accosted and beat them without provocation and then ran off.

Deputies found Johnson gravely injured in an alley at the west side of the church, Lt. Kenneth Nelson said. He was taken to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, where he was pronounced dead from blunt-force head and chest trauma.

Vasquez was arrested by deputies later that day. Authorities have disclosed no suspected motive for the violence.

Vasquez will be eligible for parole on his 41st birthday, but prosecutors said he is unlikely to get released at his first hearing.



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