Two men were sentenced Friday to life prison terms in a case involving the molestation of three brothers in Tustin.
Dustin James Elwood, 24, was sentenced to 45 years to life in prison and Jimmy Ernest Hutton, 27, got 30 years to life in prison.
Elwood could have faced up to 225 years to life and Hutton faced up to 60 years to life, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown.
Orange County Superior Court Judge John Conley said it was among the worst cases of child molestation he’s seen in his four-decade career in law enforcement.
“On a scale of one to 10, this is a 10,” Conley said. “This is among the worst I’ve ever seen… It is despicable conduct… You took advantage of a family, which is deeply upsetting… and it occurred again and again and again.”
Still, Conley said, he did not feel it was right to dole out the maximum punishment.
“I can’t give the maximum sentence to make the family feel better,” Conley said. “As the defense has said the defendants are human beings as well.”
Elwood has credit for 1,684 days in custody and Hutton was given credit for 1,630 days in jail.
One of the victims told Conley how Elwood endeared himself to his family and became like a “big brother” to him.
“We felt safe with him because we knew him since we were kids and he felt like family, like an older brother,” he said. “He would take us out to eat, buy us toys, and take us to the skate park.”
That all changed when the sexual abuse happened, he said.
“We lost all trust for one another and we didn’t want to speak to each other,” he said of his siblings. “It was always fighting and constant arguing in the house and it wasn’t a house, it wasn’t a family.”
To this day, the victim said he has “trust issues,” and he recalled how he lost many friends “because at the time when the abuse was happening I was odd. I didn’t have friends. I was an outcast basically throughout my while elementary and middle school years. It even continued to high school. I was awkward, never fit in anywhere and I hated it.”
The victim said he suffers from depression and anxiety, which he has difficulty managing.
Elwood and Hutton were convicted April 27.
Elwood was convicted on multiple counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor and a count of possession of child pornography, all felonies, in relation to three brothers.
Hutton was convicted of sexually assaulting two brothers, including one boy he licked chocolate syrup off of, according to Brown. One of the brothers testified Hutton sexually assaulted him, but the defendant was not charged with those allegations, Brown said.
Jurors, who deliberated for about 3 1/2 days, hung on three counts each for both defendants. Those charges related to two boys who were friends of the brothers, Brown said.
The oldest of three brothers, who is now 18, testified that Elwood befriended him and would take him to baseball practices and games when his father was too busy with work.
Elwood, who was friends with the victim’s oldest brother, first befriended the youngest sibling when he was 3 or 4, the victim testified.
“It was in junior high that he started to realize maybe this relationship was inappropriate,” Brown told jurors in her opening statement.
The allegations against Elwood and Hutton came to light when the mother of the boys found a flash drive containing child pornography images of the victims, Brown said.
Elwood and Hutton would “share photographs” of the boys taken during sex acts, Brown said.
In one instance, one of the boys engaged in a sex act with both men, Brown said.
Two other victims who were friends of the brothers accused the men of inappropriate behavior such as hugs and comments about how “cute” they are, Brown argued. But jurors could not reach verdicts on those counts.
The sexual assaults date back to 2008 when the boys were about 7 to 11 years old, according to prosecutors.
Both Elwood and Hutton were arrested with flash drives containing pornographic images of the victims, Brown said.
—City News Service
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