A homeless man was beaten and killed in Santee, California following a dispute over a paintball gun, his wife told NBC 7 San Diego.
Penny Lowery said her husband was killed because he tried to protect another homeless man a week before his death.
"They were shooting him with a paintball gun. My husband took the paintball gun from him,” Penny Lowery said in an interview with NBC 7 the day her husband was taken off life support.
Two Santee brothers face charges or murder, robbery, kidnapping and torture in the death of George Lowery.
Lowery, 50, was beaten with "fists and feet" in an assault that homicide investigators describe as "a very horrific event." He was hospitalized with head injuries after his wife found him unconscious April 24 near Chubb Lane and N. Magnolia Avenue. Lowery died five days later.
Penny Lowery said her husband was hogtied and covered up by a piece of plywood.
“I seen a piece of plywood that goes to where we stay,” Lowery said. “I heard gurgling. When I picked it up he was gurgling for his life.”
Preston Mostrong, 19, and his brother Austin Mostrong, 20, have pleaded not guilty to charges in the case. Prosecutors told a judge Monday that the defendants gave statements to San Diego County Sheriff’s Deputies putting them at the scene of the assault.
Investigators have not released information on a motive and would not confirm the details surrounding a previous altercation between the defendants and the victim.
A closer look at the criminal records of the Mostrong brothers reveals both were on probation for prior misdemeanor offenses.
A 2014 criminal complaint shows Preston Mostrong pleaded guilty to petty theft. He was fined and given three years of probation.
His older brother, Austin, was charged with two counts of battery and resisting an officer just four days before the alleged riverbed attack. He pleaded guilty to the misdemeanors and given probation.
"This was a brutal, heinous, just cold-hearted case, and as the evidence comes out, I’d say the murder charges and the torture charges are very much warranted in this case," said Deputy District Attorney George Modlin.
In a post on an online fundraising site, family described George Lowery as someone who didn't have much but still managed to help others.
"If someone was in need he would do what he could to help, no matter how hard the task. If he came across good fortune, he shared it," they wrote.
Anyone with information about the incident can call the homicide detail at 858-974-2321 or after hours at 858-565-5200.