One of three men charged with beating and stabbing a homeless man to death in Blythe was convicted Wednesday of murder and assault.
Matthew Damien Cotter, 26, of Blythe, is slated to be sentenced in December for the Jan. 18, 2016, killing of William Barbour, whose body was found just before 7 a.m. in the parking lot of a vacant building on East Hobsonway.
Cotter and his co-defendants, Cody James Winn, 26, and Blake Austin Beach, 24, both also of Blythe, allegedly admitted to the killing shortly after they were arrested.
Beach is undergoing a parallel trial before a separate Indio jury, which began deliberating Wednesday, while Winn’s trial is expected to begin later this month.
Prosecutors say Barbour suffered “23 sharp force injuries” to his body and “11 sharp force injuries and multiple blunt force injuries to the head and face,” according to a prosecutor’s trial brief, which also says his skull “was crushed inward around the eyes and nose” and that he suffered “multiple stab wounds around the left temple and eye and left chest.”
A homeless friend of Barbour’s, who found the body and notified police, told investigators that he last spoke with Barbour about 1 a.m. the day he was killed near a gas station next door to the vacant building where his body was found. The friend said that after Barbour departed, he also saw “three males drinking alcohol” near the building, but could not tell who they were.
Within a day of the killing, surveillance footage from the gas station led investigators to identify and arrest the men, who prosecutors allege separately confessed to killing Barbour with a variety of knives and a billy club, according to the brief.
Blood from one of the knives and the billy club, both seized from Winn, matched Barbour, the brief states. A bloody butterfly knife was also seized from Beach, but DNA results were inconclusive.
Court documents did not mention a motive for the killing.
In addition to murder and assault, Winn faces a felony count of possession of a billy club and Beach faces a misdemeanor count of possession of a switchblade.