EL CAJON, Calif. — An 18-year-old high school cheerleader facing charges in the violent death of a California homeless man broke down in court Monday.
Prosecutors say Hailey Jordan Suder took part in the attack that left the victim, 50-year-old George Lowery, lying lifeless in the bed of the San Diego River in Santee, California, according to KSWB. An emotional Suder pleaded not guilty to being an accessory after the fact and was ordered held on $100,000 bail. She faces three years and eight months behind bars if convicted.
On the evening of April 24, Lowery’s wife, who lived with him in a makeshift camp in the area, found him unconscious in a field near Chubb Lane and North Magnolia Avenue, suffering from severe trauma to his upper body.
The victim, who had also been tied up and robbed, was admitted to Sharp Memorial Hospital, where he died of his injuries four days later.
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On the day of Lowery’s death, detectives arrested two brothers from Santee, Austin Larry Mostrong, 21, and 19-year-old Preston Autry Mostrong, on suspicion of committing the assault. The two have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and torture.
Police arrested Suder on Thursday. Grossmont Union High School District Spokeswoman Catherine Martin confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that Suder, a senior at Santana High School, was on the cheerleading team. She did not graduate with the rest of her class at the June ceremony.
The crime apparently stemmed from a fight the older brother had gotten into with some homeless people in the same general area on April 20, Lt. Kenneth Nelson said. It was unclear if Lowery had been present during that altercation, which left Austin Mostrong under arrest.
Authorities did not disclose Suder’s alleged role in the assault or her relationship, if any, with the Mostrongs. Her Facebook status is “single,” but the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that she was dating one of the brothers.
The brothers were both on probation at the time of the attack — Preston Mostrong for a theft-related case and Austin Mostrong for charges of assault and obstructing a peace officer.
Following the Mostrongs’ arraignment, a friend of the victim’s family told reporters he had been a loving father of four and, recently, a grandfather. She said she wasn’t sure why he and his wife had wound up homeless.
Suder is due back in court June 29 for a readiness conference and July 5 for a preliminary hearing.
The Mostrongs have a preliminary hearing set for Aug. 26.