With their attorneys seeking more time, sentencing was postponed today for three men who ambushed and killed a college student and severely injured his friend following a confrontation in a Temecula bar.
Matthew Alexis Basler, 34, Marvin Justin Black, 29, and James Wing Fung, 34, could face 80 years to life in prison for the Dec. 26, 2008, slaying of 22-year-old Ryan Joshua Armstrong and the stabbing of his friend, Joel Ross.
Each defendant was found guilty in November of first-degree murder, attempted murder, assault and sentence-enhancing weapons allegations.
One of the men is seeking a new trial, and all of them have prior felony convictions that their attorneys are challenging. To give the defense additional time to prepare motions, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Angel Bermudez rescheduled the sentencing hearing to March 15.
According to prosecutors, Basler, Black and Fung -- all of San Diego -- went to ET's Lounge in Temecula on the same night Armstrong, Ross and about 10 of their friends went there to play pool.
The defendants and two women were in the middle of a game when a young woman, apparently drunk, disrupted it.
Black yelled at the woman, causing her to tear up, at which point Armstrong rushed to her defense, according to a trial brief filed by Deputy District Attorney Brandon Smith.
Armstrong and Basler exchanged words, the latter inviting the Chapman University student to step outside, which Armstrong declined to do. The two sides cooled down but were kicked out of the bar anyway.
Basler, his co-defendants and their two girlfriends piled into his pickup truck and started to leave the area, but Basler was still fuming, shouting, "I'm gonna (expletive) that guy up," according to the brief.
The defendant drove around until he found Armstrong, who was in a separate parking lot with three friends.
Basler, Black and Fung jumped out of the truck and pounced on Amrstrong, stabbing the young man five times, including once in the heart, prosecutors said.
Ross attempted to intervene and was stabbed four times in his side, causing him to collapse and black out. He never identified which of the defendants attacked him, according to the D.A.'s office.
Fung's blood-stained pocket knife was recovered at the scene.
Armstrong, the son of Ron Armstrong, founder of Wildomar-based Cornerstone Community Church, died that night in a hospital.
The defendants were identified and arrested within a few days.
—City News Service