A convicted felon who beat and robbed a man lured to a party by an ex-girlfriend bent on revenge against the victim was sentenced today to nine years in prison.
Matthew Aaron Underwood, 21, of Lake Elsinore pleaded guilty last month to assault resulting in great bodily injury and robbery for the January 2012 attack on the then-25-year-old victim in Perris.
In exchange for Underwood's admissions, the Riverside County District Attorney's Office dropped three sentence-enhancing allegations that would have added several years to his sentence. The plea deal was certified by Superior Court Judge Helios Hernandez.
Two of Underwood's co-defendants, Kennedy Odell Jones and Stephanie Kathleen Schulman, both of Perris, were sentenced earlier this year under negotiated pleas reached with prosecutors. Jones, a parolee, received a 12-year sentence. Schulman received a four-month jail term and three years probation.
The defendants attacked the victim, whose identity was not released, on the night of Jan. 28, 2012, after the young man was encouraged to come to a house party on Harvest Way in Perris.
Schulman contacted the victim via a social networking website and told him she hoped to see him at the get-together, according to Deputy District Attorney Mike Romney.
"They had some kind of history, apparently of a romantic nature," Romney told City News Service. "We were never able to determine what the plan was for the victim. But it was pretty clear that Schulman wanted these guys to take revenge on him."
The victim told sheriff's investigators that he hesitated to go to the party because he had not been in contact with Schulman for a year, but decided to attend anyway.
Shortly after arriving at the location, where between and 30 and 40 people were partying, the man was jumped by Underwood and Jones, who punched and kicked him in the face and body for at least two minutes, while he was on the ground.
"It was a pretty bad beat-down. They kicked him in the head, really beat the tar out of him," Romney said. "They took his cell phone and car keys, but not his car."
The defendants also demanded money, but he didn't have any cash on him, according to investigators.
The victim was briefly hospitalized and treated for a broken nose and an injury to his mouth, Romney said.
Jones was identified as an assailant within a few days and was quickly arrested. Underwood and another man, who was later cleared of wrongdoing, were also identified, according to Romney.
He said a deputy spoke with Underwood via telephone, and the defendant agreed to meet the investigator but instead fled the state, going to Phoenix.
Investigators from the D.A.'s office and U.S. Marshals uncovered his whereabouts, and he was arrested and extradited back to Riverside County in July.
Romney said Underwood has a felony conviction in another county, but has never served time in prison. He will not be eligible for parole until he serves 85 percent of his sentence, or seven years, eight months. --City News Service