|For Immediate Release
Case # 06ZF0138
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
TWO SAN DIEGO MEN FACE TRIAL FOR SUPER
BOWL SUNDAY MURDER OF SUSPECTED
IRVINE DRUG DEALER
*Third co-defendant convicted in April 2008
SANTA ANA – Two San Diego men face trial tomorrow for murdering a suspected drug dealer with a third co-defendant in a plot to steal money and cocaine on Super Bowl Sunday. Stephen Bennett, 37, 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. Opening statements are scheduled to begin tomorrow, Sep. 17, 2008, at 10:00 a.m. in Department C-30, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Co-defendant Brandon Turner, 22, Oceanside, was found guilty by a jury on April 14, 2008, of felonies for special circumstances murder during the commission of a robbery, second degree robbery, and the transportation of a controlled substance and a true finding on the sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death. Turner faces a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole at his sentencing Sep. 19, 2008 at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-30.
On Feb. 5, 2006, Bennett and Smith are accused of devising a plan with Turner to rob a drug dealer in order to steal money and drugs. 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 accused of also shooting the victim. The defendants are accused of stealing cocaine from the victim’s home and fleeing the scene.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting the case.