Three men who ambushed and killed a college student,severely injured his friend and tried to harm another man following a confrontation in a Temecula bar were each sentenced today to more than 69 years in prison.
Matthew Alexis Basler, 34, Marvin Justin Black, 29, and James Wing Fung, 34, were convicted in November of the Dec. 26, 2008, slaying of 22-year-old Ryan Joshua Armstrong.
The young man’s friend, Joel Ross, was stabbed multiple times, and another man was struck when he tried to intervene during the attack.
Each defendant was found guilty of first-degree murder, attempted murder, assault and sentence-enhancing weapons allegations.
All of them have prior felony convictions.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Angel Bermudez sentenced Basler to 69 years to life in prison; Black to 70 years to life; and Fung to 71 years to life.
“I’m glad for the victims’ families that this is all over,” Deputy District Attorney Brandon Smith told City News Service. “I hope this allows them to feel that some semblance of justice was served, knowing that these men are going where they belong.”
According to the prosecution, 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 of their friends went there to play pool.
The defendants and two girls 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 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 Smith.
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 Armstrong, stabbing the young man five times, including once in the heart.
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.
Two other young men also tried to break up the attack, one of whom was struck and repelled by the defendants, Smith said.
Fung’s blood-stained pocket knife was recovered at the scene.
Armstrong — 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.
“They were all equally culpable,” Smith told CNS. “They all decided to be a part of it, knowing that it was going to be more than a fistfight.”