Phoenix Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Federal Prison for Second Degree Murder
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 24, 2009|
PHOENIX—Augustine Bernal Thomas, 37, of Phoenix, was sentenced yesterday to 20 years in prison by U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell. Thomas pleaded guilty on August 20, 2009, to Second Degree Murder. Co-defendant Joshua Phillips pleaded guilty to the same offense and was previously sentenced to 20 years for his involvement.
Thomas and Phillips were involved with the homicide of an adult male on the Gila River Indian Reservation. The victim had allegedly been spreading rumors that he was having an intimate relationship with defendant’s girlfriend. Those rumors caused defendant to become upset and to enlist the assistance of co-defendant Joshua Phillips, to “watch his back.” Prior to traveling to the scene, co-defendant Phillips allegedly called a fellow “brother” of the Warrior Society and asked for permission to assist Thomas in the assault.
When the defendants arrived at the victim’s home, the victim came outside with a garden hoe. The victim allegedly began hitting Thomas’ vehicle with the hoe. Thomas then got out of the vehicle and began stabbing the victim. Phillips assisted in the assault because Thomas was losing the fight. Phillips grabbed the hoe from the victim and began wielding the hoe into the melee. The pair overpowered the victim and repeatedly stabbed, beat and kicked him. The victim died at the scene as a result of multiple stab wounds suffered during the assault.
The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Gila River Police Department and the Salt River Police Department. The prosecution was handled by Sharon Sexton and Heather Belt, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.
CASE NUMBER: CR-08-449-PHX-DGC
RELEASE NUMBER: 2009-364(Thomas)