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Accused Murderers Will Face Local Jurors

Attorneys for Matthew Basler, James Fung and Marvin Black had unsuccessfully petitioned the judge to consider picking a jury panel from Riverside, rather than locally.

Three defendants facing trial in the stabbing death of a Wildomar pastor's son will be judged by a jury of their peers from Southwest Riverside County, rather than a panel from Riverside, as their attorneys requested.

The request was made during the start of the jury selection process in the trial of

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Angel Bermudez out of the presence of prospective jurors was asked by Basler's attorney to summon a jury pool from Riverside, according to court records.

But on Thursday, following arguments by all counsel, it was determined that the current crop of prospects would suffice in the selection process, court documents indicate.

Bermudez ordered everyone back to court Monday to continue jury selection.

The defendants face 60 years in prison if convicted of murder, attempted murder and weapons allegations in the Dec. 26, 2008, slaying of 22-year-old Ryan Joshua Armstrong and the stabbing of his friend, Joel Ross.

They are each being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta.

While awaiting trial -- and sitting in jail -- Fung picked up a misdemeanor battery charge and Basler picked up two felony assault charges, according to court papers.

Black was charged with possession of a hand-made weapon in jail, according to court records.

According to testimony during the preliminary hearing, the murder was committed after Basler, Black and Fung -- all of San Diego -- went to E.T.'s Bar in Temecula on the same night Armstrong, Ross and about 10 other friends went there to play pool.

To read more about the case, please click here.

Brenda September 21, 2012 at 06:37 AM
YES!!! No cases should have a change of venue because they are scared to be tried in front of their peers. Actually I think they might stand a better chance of peers following even more closely the laws to find them guilty. Just looking at the half smirk on the middle guys face, and the total smirk on the left guys face makes me ill. Innocent or not its just not proper to act that way when you are accused of murder. More like scared chitless and bawling my head off would be more like it, whether I was guilty or innocent.
Adrian September 21, 2012 at 08:09 AM
Let me preface my opinion with this disclaimer, as to avoid being called a "bleeding heart liberal", etc: if found guilty of the alleged crimes, these men should be subject to the full scope of punishment. That said, I can understand the request for a change of venue. The media has had a field day with making the Cornerstone Church connection. I am fearful that the Christian-right element of the Temecula area, a fair portion of whom have no doubt seen the headlines about the murder of a pastor's son, might feel some sort of religious duty to convict. This irresponsible grab at sensationalism by the local media places what I would consider an unfair bias on a potential jury of peers. Often times, faith trumps reason and facts become secondary to religious fervor. I can only hope that the selected panel can use their brains rather than their piety when weighing the evidence.
C2River September 21, 2012 at 04:01 PM
They did it. They left a witness... The Gent on the far right threatened me at the same bar. Try anywhere they are still guilty.
Adrian September 21, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Well, if the evidence is there, then justice will be served. I am just saying why my concerns would be and how I can understand the request for a non-local jury pool.
Adrian September 21, 2012 at 04:56 PM
*** "what", not "why"
TVOR September 21, 2012 at 06:42 PM
I think a non-local jury is a better idea because the decision by the jury in the end is less likely to be effected by bias and it would weaken the chance of a successful appeal.
Kathleen September 21, 2012 at 07:43 PM
I was in the courtroom, and I can tell you that the judge found an appropriate way to filter Cornerstone Church members and attenders sympathetic to the Armstrong family out of the jury pool. The defense attorneys worked with the prosecutor to prepare a statement and a set of questions that would effectively do so.
TVOR September 21, 2012 at 09:12 PM
The unfortunate thing is that this may give the defense an argument for appeal.
Brenda September 21, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Guys, I am sure you have all served on jury duty right? I was fearful when I went in the first time that I would show bias, etc. I was about 25 yrs old. But even at that young age and on through more "duties", once I walked in, I took it to be the most serious thing I had ever done. I got on a one day case, and then on a case that went for 3 weeks, leaving me in there for awhile. RAWR. But I have to say that with each Duty, not recent due to disabilities, it only has strengthened my resolve to do exactly what my job description is a juror. Even though in one case the evidence we were given to look over again, when you flipped it over it had about 12 pictures taped to the back of the accused booking pictures through the years and the charges underneath. Now THAT was a tough one after learning that additional information. So, I like to believe, Adrian and TVor, that most all of us have that same feeling when we walk into that jury room or court room interview for the first time, and subsequent times that we have a job to do, and do it by the law and fairly. Course I see the world with rose colored glasses :/ If I was told not to consider the church, or other instructions then I would not. I actually do not think of the church when an article comes in about these guys. I think of the murder itself, the evidence as we see it in the paper and debate that.
Brenda September 21, 2012 at 09:46 PM
BUT, as I am not on this jury, I still do NOT Like the smirk on the middle and left guys faces. Guilty or not its not something to smile about, or try to hold back a smile for ANY reason.
BIGTOM September 21, 2012 at 11:00 PM
It is true,they did it! I know it is there right to get a fair trial,but these A-holes did it and are trying to get away with it.Why do we have to give them anything.
Breech September 22, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Four years in jail on the tax payer dime without a trial. I predict the jury will reach a verdict within 10 minutes of entering deliberation.
AWags September 24, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Look I know Ryan and what happened that faitfull night. They are guilty him being a pastors son or not has nothing to do with it. I do understand why they would want to have a jury from somewhere else but honestly the why should the court system go through any more leaps for these peaces of scum than they already have. Its not fair the way they took such a wonderful man from this world the way they did. They will get a fair trail, Ryan did not!
AWags September 24, 2012 at 05:56 PM
I really Hope so!!!!!
The Truth October 20, 2012 at 06:27 AM
Prior to the day of the stabbing, Black and Fung had a strong history of being incarcerated PERIOD. Those of you that carry on about how good of a person Black and Fung were are seriously unaware of who they truly are. I hate to say this but yes they are known criminals that have been in the system way long before the stabbing. Court appearances clearly show that they have no remorse what so ever for Ryan. Photos in the news paper show Black and Fung smiling when you know deep down inside they are truly miserable being locked up like animals. Oh how they must be so proud to wear them bright orange jump suits that clearly advertise them as being the property of Riverside County. The truth will prevail for those of you that are in denial, keep visiting them in jail because that is as close as you will ever get to Black and Fung. When the guilty verdict comes in better pack your bags because its STATE PRISON from there on and I can reassure you it won't be no where close to home.
BLACK November 09, 2012 at 04:17 PM
The Truth-shows how much you know. Marvin Black isnt even in that picture if those men in orange jumpsuits. Thats Basler and Fung. They kept marvin seperate for his own protection because once again hes innocent!

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