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October 30, 2012

MAN SENTENCED TO LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE FOR ROBBERY-MURDER OF SUSPECTED DRUG DEALER ON SUPER BOWL SUNDAY

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 5:29 pm

*Two co-defendants have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole

SANTA ANA - A man was sentenced today to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for the robbery-murder of a suspected Irvine drug dealer on Super Bowl Sunday. Bernard Smith, 48, Vista, San Diego, was found guilty by a jury July 6, 2012, of one felony count of special circumstances murder during the commission of a robbery and one felony count of second degree robbery.

This was a re-trial, as Smith was previously sentenced Jan. 16, 2009, to life in prison without the possibility of parole in this case. On June 28, 2011, the California Court of Appeals, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three, overturned the conviction based on their decision that the defendant should not have been jointly tried with his co-defendant, Stephen Bennett.

Bennett, 41, Vista, San Diego County, was convicted Oct. 2, 2008, of one felony count each of special circumstances murder during the commission of a robbery, second degree robbery, and the transportation of a controlled substance, and his two 1992 prior robbery strike convictions were found true. Bennett was sentenced Dec. 12, 2008, to life in state prison without the possibility of parole.

Co-defendant Brandon Turner, 26, Oceanside, was found guilty by a jury April 14, 2008, of one felony count each of special circumstances murder during the commission of a robbery, second degree robbery, and the transportation of a controlled substance, with a true finding on the sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death. Turner was sentenced Sept. 19, 2008, to life in state prison without the possibility of parole.

On Feb. 5, 2006, Smith, Bennett, and Turner devised a plan to steal money and drugs from a drug dealer. Bennett called suspected drug dealer Brian Gray to set up a meeting under the pretense of purchasing drugs. The defendants drove from Vista to the victim’s Irvine home with the intention of stealing drugs from Gray. Smith and Turner murdered the victim by shooting him several times. The defendants stole cocaine from the victim’s home and fled the scene.

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