The man convicted in the October 2014 beating death of Russell "Rusty" Bitton will spend the next 30 years behind bars.
Scotty Turnbull, 25, pleaded guilty in March
to second-degree murder and aggravated battery connected to the attack on Bitton and a woman identified as Anneca Maestas, who was severely beaten the night before Bitton's murder under the Boise Connector on Americana Boulevard.
Bitton, 37, had struggled with alcohol and had spent time in local homeless shelters. When his body was discovered
in the early morning hours of Oct. 28, 2014, he was found to have suffered blunt force trauma to the head. Witnesses said Bitton's death came after standing up to Turnbull for the assault on Maestas, who he had punched in the face, kicked several times in the head and left in the street.
Speaking to Boise Weekly in January 2015
, shortly after Turnbull was charged for the attacks, Bitton's daughter Allura Clifford and her mother Jennifer Clifford said they wanted him to be remembered as more than "that homeless guy who was beaten to death under the Americana Boulevard overpass."
"As hard as Rusty struggled, he went out a hero. If he had nothing else, he left us with something to be proud of," said Jennifer. "And I'm proud to say that we had a child together."
Allura highlighted how hard Bitton had worked to turn his life around.
"He still struggled. He was picked up and sent to jail. I think it was for public intoxication, but he sent me a letter from jail that said how much he wanted to be sober," she said. "When he got out, he called me from an AA meeting. That was two days before he died. We were supposed to meet but..."
Ada County District Judge Samuel Hoagland sentenced Turnbull on June 1 to 30 years behind bars, 15 years fixed, for the attacks. Turnbull was sentenced to 15 years with no parole for Bitton's death and to 15 years for the attack on Maestas. The two sentences will run consecutively. Turnbull's past includes convictions of arson, aggravated battery, aggravated assault and various drug-related charges.