Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
SAN DIEGO MAN SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON
FOR SUPER BOWL SUNDAY MURDER OF SUSPECTED DRUG DEALER WITH TWO FRIENDS
*Two co-defendants currently on trial for their participation in the murder
SANTA ANA – A San Diego man was sentenced today to life without the possibility of parole plus an additional 25 years to life for murdering a suspected drug dealer with two friends in a plot to steal money and cocaine on Super Bowl Sunday. Brandon Turner, 22, Oceanside, was found guilty by a jury on April 14, 2008, of felonies for murder, murder during the commission of another felony, second degree robbery, and the transportation of a controlled substance. The sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death was found true.
Co-defendants Stephen Bennett, 37, and Bernard Smith, 44, both of Vista, San Diego, are charged with felonies for special circumstances murder during the commission of a robbery, second degree robbery, the transportation of a controlled substance, and the possession of a firearm by a felon. Smith faces a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death. Bennett is charged as a third striker with two prior 1992 robbery convictions. If convicted, each faces a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole. They are currently on trial for this case in Department C-30, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
On February 5, 2006, Turner devised a plan to rob a drug dealer in order to steal money and drugs. Bennett and Smith are accused of devising the plan with Turner. Bennett is accused of calling a suspected drug dealer, Brian Gray, and setting up a meeting under the pretense of purchasing drugs. The defendants drove from Vista to the Irvine home of the victim with the intention of stealing drugs from Gray. Turner shot the victim several times, killing him. Smith is also accused of shooting the victim. The defendants then stole cocaine from the victim’s home and fled the scene.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.