A California appeals court denied a new trial for an Antioch man who was convicted of murdering his father, a crime prosecutors said was motivated by the victim’s strict discipline of his son.
Scott Eastman, 25, was sentenced to 50 years to life in 2019, for murdering his father, Relis Eastman. During trial, Scott Eastman attempted to pin the murder on his stepmother, arguing through his attorney that he had been framed by the woman and that she wanted to get both father and son out of the way.
The prosecution said Scott Eastman murdered Relis Eastman, 44, because his dad had caught Scott ordering drugs through the so-called dark web, a portion of the Internet hidden from easy public view and often used for illicit transactions, and wasn’t happy about it. Ironically, it was a revolver purchased through the dark web that Scott used in the crime, police determined.
The appeals court was asked to grant a new trial for Scott Eastman based on three main arguments: that the court shouldn’t have included porn searches on Eastman’s phone indicating he had an unhealthy interest in his stepmom and stepsister, that the prosecutor committed misconduct during her closing arguments, and that the jury should have heard testimony from Eastman’s stepmom that she wanted Relis Eastman dead.
In all three instances, the appeals court ruled against Scott Eastman; they found the prosecution’s arguments weren’t improper, and that the phone searches were admissible because they helped establish “(Eastman) was in possession of the phone at critical points.”
Further, the court ruled that witness testimony regarding reported statements by Eastman’s stepmom — among others, that “If I could get away with killing him, I would” — were irrelevant because they didn’t absolve Eastman of involvement. The stepmom, the court ruled, “was with her children on the night of the murder,” and “could not herself have committed the crime.”
During the investigation, police suspected Eastman’s stepmom had some involvement in the crime, but always suspected him as the triggerman. His stepmom was never arrested or charged, and was a prosecution witness at trial. She at first invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, but then agreed to testify after being granted immunity, according to court records.
Eastman is serving his sentence at High Desert State Prison, according to public records.