Santa Monica News
SANTA MONICA—On October 21, the Santa Monica Police Department reported that an intensive investigation that lasted for more than a year, and was in incorporation of an undercover drug sting and a court-authorized wiretap of suspected gang members' telephones, led to the arrests of three Santa Monica men in connection to the 2008 killing of Preston Brumfield. A fourth man is still being sought.
The three men arrested are 26-year-old Jason Anthony Hurtado and two brothers, 50-year-old Sammy Murphy and 65-year-old Gwindon Love Murphy. All have been charged by the Los Angeles District Attorney with murder, conspiracy to commit an assault with a deadly weapon, and violations of the state's street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention (STEP) Act. The Murphy brothers were further charged with solicitation to commit an assault with a deadly weapon.
The fourth suspect who is being sought, 27-year-old Jason Coleman, is also a Santa Monica resident, and is wanted in connection to the Brumfield murder investigation.
Brumfield, 49, had been known as a prominent street entity in the Pico Neighborhood, and residents in the area were inflamed over his death.
An ensuing investigation of the homicide by SMPD uncovered the involvement of possible members of a local street gang called the "Graveyard Crips." Working with the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office and the California Department of Justice, SMPD acquired court approval late in 2008 to perform a wiretapping investigation on alleged members of the gang who had suspected involvement in Brumfield's murder.
The wiretap uncovered information linked with the homicide investigation, along with evidence that identified some individuals involved in illegal drug sales. Letters were issued by the L.A. District Attorney's Office to inform nearly 200 people that their telephone conversations were to be intercepted by SMPD during the week of October 11 to October 17. The interception was pursuant to the court-approved wiretap. Many of these individuals were contacted to provide clarity on statements that they made and were recorded by investigators pursuant to the investigation.
Along with information collected during the wiretapping stage, additional corroborating evidence connecting the four men to Brumfield's murder was also acquired. "Operation Tombstone," an undercover narcotics investigation that was initiated in 2009, was conducted on the basis of communications that were intercepted during the wiretap investigation that identified suspected members of the "Graveyard Crips" as local drug dealers.
The undercover investigation continued until early October, when SMPD arrested several subjects for sale and federal violations and served search warrants at several Santa Monica residences. Along with evidence of drug sales, further evidence linking the Murphy brothers, Coleman, and Hurtado to the Brumfield homicide was also attained.
As of present, the six individuals that have been apprehended for suspected involvement in narcotics sales activity in connection to this continuing investigation are named as follows: Shawn Rodney Martin, 25; Dante Lamar Harrington, 32; Dino Joseph Henry, 46; Guillermo Castellgarcia, 22; Frank Javier Villareal, 28; and Crystal Laurette Clark, 44.
Anyone with further information regarding the Brumfield murder, or the possible whereabouts of any outstanding suspects, is urged to contact Detective John Henry at 310-458-8978, or Sergeant Ira Rutan at 310-458-8959, or SMPD at 310-458-8495.
Those wishing to remain anonymous may call WeTip at 1-800-78-CRIME (1-800-78-27463). Callers are assured that they may remain completely anonymous and even be eligible for a reward if their information leads to an arrest and conviction.
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