UPDATED at 5:17 p.m.: A defendant accused in the fatal stabbing of a Cornerstone Community Church pastor’s son at a Temecula bar shouted curses at a superior court judge Thursday, following the judge’s rejection of a motion to dismiss charges.
Marvin Justin Black, 29, – along with James Wing Fung, 33, and Matthew Basler, 34 – is on trial for murder in the death of Ryan Armstrong. They're also being tried on an attempted murder charge in the stabbing of Armstrong's friend, Joel Ross.
The three defendants all have prison records and they face assault charges. If convicted on all charges, Black, Fung and Bassler -- all from San Diego -- each face 60 years in prison.
Fung is additionally charged with trying to intimidate a witness.
Armstrong, the son of pastor Ron Armstrong of Wildomar's Cornerstone Community Church, was stabbed about 10:45 p.m. Dec. 26, 2008; Ross was seriously injured, also suffering stab wounds.
The attack took place at ET Sports Lounge in Temecula.
To read more about the case, click here.
Riverside Superior Court Judge Angel Bermudez had just denied a defense motion to dismiss charges against the defendants when the outburst occurred.
Black’s attorney, Joshua Knight, asked the judge to dismiss all charges against his client.
“The people have put forth this theory of aiding and abetting as some sort of conspiracy,” Knight told the court.
He went on to say that his client was never involved in any plan to knife either of the men.
In the bar, said Knight, the defendants may have been planning to “jump” Ryan Armstrong following an argument but there was no mention of fighting.
According to Knight, Black got out of the truck only because his friends were being attacked and he did not encourage any stabbing.
In handing down his ruling, Bermudez pointed out that Black’s girlfriend had testified that she was so upset about the stabbing attack that “she ejected” the defendant from her home.
That was when Black began shouting expletives at Bermudez.
As deputies hustled him out of the courtroom, Black continued to yell profanities directed at the judge.
Jurors were not present when the outburst occurred.
Fung's attorney, Karen Lockhart, cited an insufficiency of evidence and also asked for a dismissal of charges against her client.
"There is no evidence that Mr. Fung stabbed anyone," Lockhart told the judge.
The defense contends that the reason Basler drove the truck back around the bar and into the parking lot where the attack occurred was because he and his friends spotted a CHP cruiser and did not want to be stopped and prosecuted for DUI.
As Basler drove back into the parking lot, slowing because people were milling about, someone threw an object at Basler's truck, breaking his mirror, his attorney William Wolfe said.
When Basler and Fung got out of the truck, they were swarmed by a large group of people and were only defending themselves, according to Lockhart.
"They were overwhelmed and they were taken to the ground," Lockhart said. "This was an act of self defense."
A witness for the defense testified Wednesday that Armstrong did not seem to want a fight.
Kathryn Bordelon was the first defense witness to take the stand; she was called by Lockhart.
Following a brief opening statement by Basler's attorney who had deferred his opening at the beginning of trial, Bordelon testified that following an argument over someone in Armstrong's group putting a beer cup on the pool table, which angered Fung's group, everything seemed to cool down.
It did not appear that Armstrong wanted to fight with Basler’s group, Bordelon said. Armstrong told their friend Chris Martin that whatever he decided to do about the cup and the subsequent harsh words, he would support his actions, she said.
Armstrong told Martin to "'just say the words,'" testified Bordelon.
"I don't believe from that statement that he was going to fight them,” Bordelon testified. “I never heard him say that he wanted to fight him (Basler). I just heard him (Armstrong) say that he would back him (Martin) 100 percent.”
After Armstrong spoke with the group, everything seemed settled, she testified.
“It looked like they had talked out whatever was wrong and it looked like the situation was diffused,” she said.
Later she saw them talking again.
The defense questioned Bordelon about a statement she made to investigators.
She had asked Martin that night the question, "Why are you going to fight?" adding, "Fighting is stupid."
But Bordelon maintained that she was just making a statement about possible outcomes, not that she believed that Martin was becoming aggressive.
“I figured that maybe at some point it might escalate into a fight,” she said.
Bordelon said she also saw Armstrong get tackled as he walked to the back door on his way out for a smoke.