Prosecutor: Man's Stabbing at Temecula Bar 'Premeditated'

Ryan Armstrong, a Wildomar pastor's son, was fatally stabbed Dec. 26, 2008 and three men are on trial for murder.

Eds Note: This article was edited at 12:32 p.m. to include remarks by Marvin Black's attorney.


Three men jumped out of a truck and fatally wounded a Wildomar pastor’s son in a blitz attack, a prosecutor said Wednesday but defense attorneys for the men told a different story.

Ryan Armstrong was fatally stabbed about 10:45 p.m. Dec. 26, 2008; his friend Joel Ross was seriously injured, also suffering stab wounds.

Matthew Basler, James Fung and Marvin Black all face 60 years if convicted of the murder and attempted murder of the two men.

Fung is additionally charged with trying to intimidate a witness.

Prosecutor Brandon Smith told the jury that the attack of Armstrong and Ross took about 45 seconds and that the knife assault was a “premeditated murder … over … nothing.

The prosecutor made his opening statement Wednesday at the Southwest Justice Center, in French Valley.

“These men stabbed 21-year-old Ryan Armstrong to death that night,” Smith told the jury.

Smith said that the knifing was a culmination of an argument that began inside ET Sports Lounge in Temecula over harsh words spoken to a drunk young woman in Armstrong’s party.

Both parties were drinking at the bar that night; Basler’s group was playing pool.

Smith told the jury that Basler grabbed Armstrong from behind and “sucker punched”  him in the bar before both were thrown out of the establishment.

Armstrong and Basler separated and went different ways but, Smith said, Basler drove around the block and returned to the alley behind the bar, where the defendants jumped out and attacked Armstrong.

Ross was stabbed when he pulled Fung off his friend.

“He remembers things started to go white,” Smith said of Ross.

Later, said Smith, Fung would realize that he left his knife at the scene.

A knife recovered at the scene bore Fung’s DNA, Smith told the jury.

Fung's attorney, Karen Lockhart, said her client did not take part in any attack; rather, said Lockhart, "My client was the peacekeeper."

Lockhart told the jury that Fung was jumped from behind and only fought to defend himself.

"The individual takes my client down and is beginning to choke him," Lockhart said.

The attorney added that the knife found at the scene -- the one bearing Fung's DNA -- was not the knife that inflicted the killing wound.

A "double-bladed" knife was the one used to inflict the mortal injury, Lockhart said.

Black's attorney, Joshua Knight, said his client only became involved in the skirmish because his friend Fung was being attacked.

Black did not jump out of the truck when Basler and Fung did because he did not want to fight anyone.

"Mr. Black was not looking for a fight," Knight told the jury. "He was trying to help his friend."

Knight said that his client was not present earlier in the evening, when Fung and Basler allegedly compared knives; he did not bring one to the fight either, the attorney said.

"He never had a knife; never," Knight said of his client.

Basler's attorney reserved his remarks for later in the trial.

Armstrong was the son of Ron Armstrong, founder of Wildomar-based Cornerstone Community Church, 34570 Monte Vista Drive

The church has more than 1,000 members, according to its website.

BIGTOM October 04, 2012 at 12:13 AM
I hope these guys get the max jail term,they dress them up like they are good boys but they are murders over a stupid pool game.They are a waste of life and i hope they never see the light of day.I hope the Armstrongs can be strong to get thru this.
grace rodriguez October 04, 2012 at 02:44 AM
I agree w BIGTOM and DC...hope they never see the light of day...and justice is the Lord's in this life or the next. Let justice prevail!
keepn it real October 04, 2012 at 02:08 PM
An eye for a eye one person lost his life..and the ones that caused it should have to give up their lifes by setting in prison for life. They made a bad choice and should have to pay for it. So sad for this young mans family.
Galactic Cannibal October 04, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Ah this American dream is reality.
LifeinTtown October 05, 2012 at 04:31 PM
My brother was in the jury pool on this case - said all the defendants had smirks on their faces the entire time like "yeah, try to find me guilty". Said that 2 of the defense attorney were bumbling idiots. Too bad he got dismissed, would have made a great juror and seen justice for this family.


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