Three defendants facing trial in the stabbing death of a Wildomar pastor's son asked a judge Wednesday to allow selection of jurors from Riverside, rather than locally, where the slaying occurred.
The request was made during the start of the jury selection process in the trial of Matthew Alexis Basler, 34, Marvin Justin Black, 29, and James Wing Fung, 33.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Angel Bermudez out of the presence of prospective jurors was asked by Basler's attorney to summon a jury pool from Riverside, according to court records.
The attorneys for Basler's co-defendants joined in the request but the judge reserved his ruling on the matter until a later date.
Following the conference, jury selection began anew, court records indicate.
The jurors present in court were given questionnaires and told to report back on Monday.
The defendants face 60 years in prison if convicted of murder, attempted murder and weapons allegations in the Dec. 26, 2008, slaying of 22-year-old Ryan Joshua Armstrong and the stabbing of his friend, Joel Ross.
They are each being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta.
While awaiting trial -- and sitting in jail -- Fung picked up a misdemeanor battery charge and Basler picked up two felony assault charges, according to court papers.
According to testimony during the preliminary hearing, the murder was committed after 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 other friends went there to play pool.
The defendants and two girls were in the middle of a game when a young woman, apparently drunk and conversing with the victims, sat a cup of beer on the defendants' table.
Black took the cup and tucked it into the woman's purse, speaking harshly to her, which caused her to tear up, prompting Armstrong to come to her defense.
Words were exchanged but Armstrong eschewed an invitation to step outside for a physical fight.
A brief scuffle in the door of the bar prompted the bar's security to throw everyone out but instead of driving off, the defendants allegedly pulled into the back alley and found Armstrong and his friends.
Basler and Fung were allegedly armed with pocket knives and stabbed the young man five times, including once in the heart, according to prosecutors.
Ross attempted to intervene and was stabbed four times in the side, causing him to collapse and black out. He never identified which of the defendants allegedly attacked him, according to prosecutors.
Fung's blood-stained knife was recovered at the scene, Smith said; he faces a count of dissuading a witness because he allegedly warned a witness not to go to authorities.
Armstrong, a Chapman University student and the son of Ron Armstrong, founder of Wildomar-based Cornerstone Community Church, 34570 Monte Vista Drive, died that night in a hospital.
The church has more than 1,000 members, according to its website.
Based on eyewitness statements, including from the two women who were with them, the defendants were identified and arrested within a few days.