MURRIETA – A preliminary hearing in the case of three men accused of fatally stabbing a local pastor’s son and injuring his friend was delayed today because the former girlfriend of one of the defendants had issues with self-incrimination.
Matthew Alexis Basler and James Wing Fung, both 31, and Marvin Justin Black, 26, all of San Diego, are charged with murder in the Dec. 26, 2008, stabbing death of Chapman University student Ryan Joshua Armstrong, 22, and the attempted murder of his friend, Joel Ross, in an alley behind E.T.’s Bar in Temecula.
Basler and Fung are also charged with trying to prevent a witness from testifying.
Today — the second day of a preliminary hearing that began Dec. 12 –witness Casey Grove was about to testify for the prosecution when a defense attorney brought up the issue of self-incrimination in the case.
Grove, who was Black’s girlfriend at the time of the stabbing, allegedly drove the truck that took the men away from the scene.
She has not been charged in the case but has not been granted immunity, either.
Riverside Superior Court Judge Timothy Freer ordered a conflicts defense attorney to examine the case and counsel Grove on whether she should testify, and delayed the preliminary hearing until Feb. 18.
A preliminary hearing is held to determine whether the evidence warrants a trial.
The victim’s father, Ron Armstrong founded the Cornerstone Community Church.
Suspects caught in pastor’s son’s murder
Police have caught two suspects for the murder of a local pastor’s son. On Dec. 29, police arrested Marvin Black, 25, and James Fung, 29, for the murder of Ryan Armstrong and the attempted murder of Joel Ross outside a bar in Temecula. Police are still searching for another suspect, Matthew Alexis “Matty” Basler, 30. Basler is a white male approximately five feet, nine inches tall with dark hair and a tattoo reading “Anita,” on his right ring finger. Ryan Armstrong was the son of Ron Armstrong, the founding pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Wildomar. Joel Ross, the son of Hugh Ross, a well-known creationist author and minister based in Los Angeles, was also attacked. Though badly wounded, Joel Ross survived. On Dec. 31, the Riverside County District Attorney charged Black and Basler with murder and charged Fung with attempted murder. The Southwest Detention Center is holding Black while a San Diego County jailhouse in Vista is holding Fung. Both suspects have extensive criminal records, according to San Diego court documents. Since 2001, the San Diego District Attorney has charged Black with two felonies: stealing a vehicle, for which he was sentenced to serve eight months in prison, and assault with a deadly weapon, for which he was sentenced to two years in prison. In addition, the DA has charged him with two misdemeanors: vandalism and battery. Since 1997, the DA has charged Fung with five felonies and five misdemeanors. The felonies include assault with a deadly weapon, drunk driving, writing bad checks, possessing controlled substances with the intent to sell and possessing controlled substances while on parole. The misdemeanors include drinking in public while under the legal age limit, trespassing and starting a fire, cutting telephone or electricity lines, driving under the influence and buying stolen property. Fung has been sentenced to serve time in prison on at least four separate occasions for periods of time ranging from 180 days to four years. All three suspects are from the San Diego area. The murder The murder took place on Dec. 26 in the alleyway behind E.T. Lounge, a bar in the 27000 block of Jefferson Ave. in Temecula. Witnesses told police investigators the events leading up to the attack started with an argument between Armstrong and Ross with Basler inside the bar. Basler attacked Armstrong and they began to fight, according to a police press release. During the fight, Armstrong and Basler moved into the alleyway behind the bar. There, somebody broke the fight up and separated the two men and Basler left the bar. A few minutes later, a truck pulled up to Armstrong and his party. Basler emerged from the truck along with Black and Fung. Another fight ensued, leaving Armstrong and Ross suffering from severe stab wounds. Police got a call from a female at 10:45 p.m. reporting the stabbing. At 11:28 p.m. Ryan Armstrong was rushed to Inland Valley Regional Medical Center but was pronounced dead. As of Dec. 28, Joel Ross was expected to recover. No further information has been released about his condition. To comment on this article online, visit www.myvalleynews.com.