DOWNTOWN LA — Three Santa Monica men were sentenced to prison Friday for the murder of Preston Brumfield, 49, a resident who was beaten and left for dead in the Pico Neighborhood.
Gwindon Love Murphy, 65, Jason Anthony Hurtado, 26, and Jason Eddie Coleman, 27, were sentenced to 15 years-to-life by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, with an additional two years for Hurtado due to prior convictions. All men will serve a minimum of 15 years before being eligible for parole.
Pleading not guilty, Gwindon Murphy was convicted on charges of second-degree murder, conspiracy and solicitation, while Hurtado and Coleman were convicted of second-degree murder and conspiracy with a gang enhancement.
Sammy Murphy, who has also been charged with the murder, is awaiting a retrial set for April 4, 2011.
Gwindon Murphy orchestrated a plan in May 2008 with his brother Sammy Murphy, 50, to assault Brumfield because of personal disagreements, prosecutors said. The Murphy brothers were alleged to have asked Hurtado and Coleman to carry out the deadly deed, SMPD Detective Maury Sumlin said.
Brumfield was found late evening on May 11, 2008, severely beaten and laying in a pool of blood on the sidewalk in front of 1948 20th St.
Sandra Thompson, Coleman’s grandaunt, who lived in the building near where the murder occurred, called emergency services, she said.
“I’ll never dial 911 again,” said Thompson, who believes her grandnephew was convicted based off of unreliable testimony from witnesses.
Brumfield was transported to Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center where he died four days later from bludgeoning to the head, which was compounded by a metal plate installed in his skull from a previous injury, police said.
Witness testimony placed Hurtado and Coleman at a local neighborhood liquor store 10 minutes after the beating, where they spoke in low voices about the violent incident.
Coleman’s defense attorney Alan Kessler said the testimony might have been motivated by pressure from detectives and said the witnesses were unreliable.
“They were reliable enough to convince the jury,” said District Attorney Alva Lin. “There were witnesses who did have prior convictions, but then there were witnesses where no evidence came out to any convictions.”
Police arrested the four men in October of last year for the murder after court-authorized wiretap evidence from an SMPD investigation — dubbed “Operation Tombstone” — into gang-related rock cocaine sales revealed evidence indicating their involvement.
The wiretaps were not used as court evidence in the case.
During the sentencing, Hurtado, who’s lawyer was late to the proceedings and requested an extension for time to do more research, told the judge, “[My lawyer] is being ineffective. I believe he is not working for me.”
Murphy’s family members said they could not believe the sentence, and also cited their lawyer’s lack of due diligence.
“Gwindon Murphy had a particular dislike of the victim, and the evidence was that he wanted to have the victim beat up and that was what was intended… instead [Brumfield] passed away,” Lin said. “It was a senseless pointless murder. It didn’t have to happen.”