Joshua James Larson guilty of 2nd-degree murder in death of ‘Cowboy’ HugginsTop Highlights, Breaking News Saturday, September 22nd, 2012
After six-and-a-half hours of deliberations, a jury convicted a North Park man Friday of second-degree murder in the 2011 death of Jason “Cowboy” Huggins, who was fatally injured with a heavy rock at a homeless encampment in a canyon near Hillcrest.
The jury also convicted Joshua James Larson, 38, of felony assault upon Nathan Meza, 28, who was Huggins’ boyfriend and was also struck in the head with another rock during the June 22, 2011 incident. San Diego Superior Court Judge Theodore Weathers set sentencing for Nov. 8. Larson faces a maximum sentence of 20 years to life in prison. He remains in jail without bail.
Huggins was well known in the LGBT community with his trademark black hat, boots, and a big belt buckle, but few knew he was homeless around the time of his interaction with Larson. A candlelight vigil was held outside his hospital room June 28, 2011. Huggins died from head injuries on July 6. The seven-woman and five-man jury acquitted Larson of first-degree murder in a trial that began on Sept. 11. Larson’s motivation was revenge, argued Deputy District Attorney Makenzie Harvey. Huggins testified against Larson in 2009 for stealing his wallet. Larson served 88 days in jail on probation. However, he was sentenced to an additional 79 days after his probation was revoked.
Huggins and Larson ran into each other in Hillcrest at a McDonald’s restaurant the day of the attack. The prosecutor showed security video of Larson following Huggins and Meza. Harvey said Larson had only recently gotten out of jail for the probation revocation when he spotted Huggins. Larson was also found guilty of dissuading or threatening Huggins as a witness. Meza testified Larson asked the pair, “have you ever had a rock to your face?” during the incident.
Larson mouthed “I love you” to either his girlfriend or his parents in the audience after the verdict. Neither appeared to react. However, Larson’s girlfriend wept after hearing the verdict, and his parents said afterwards “we will always stand behind him and he has our love.”
Jim Larson said he didn’t believe his son killed Huggins. Jim Larson said he was “very surprised” at the verdict and thought there was reasonable doubt that was proven by the defense. He told the prosecutor in the hallway he realized she was doing her job. Larson’s defense attorney, Peter Will, argued that another man, Chandice Lucas, 40, killed Huggins, although the man he named denied it during the trial. There were no bloody rocks, DNA evidence, or hair found at the scene by police, but Meza identified Larson as the man who attacked them both. “I want justice for my best friend,” said Lucas. “He was like my kid.”
Lucas testified that he had gotten angry at Meza and pushed him to the wall outside Huggins’ hospital room after the attack. Lucas accused Meza of abandoning Huggins by fleeing the scene once he too had been hit in the face with a rock by Larson Meza testified he fled after the rock hit his face so hard that it created a small hole under his lip into his mouth and it was closed by stitches in the hospital. Meza testified he didn’t know about the history between Huggins and Larson, but he fled after Larson threatened him. Huggins somehow made his way out of the canyon and two women on Washington Street called 911 after seeing him in great pain. Huggins went into a coma at the hospital and never regained consciousness.
His Tennessee family was given Huggins’ signature cowboy hat, which police found.
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