Three guards in Santa Clara, California have been found guilty of second-degree murder in the 2015 death of mentally ill inmate Michael Tyree. The three had also been charged with assaulting another, mentally ill inmate.
According to CBS News, Tyree incurred numerous injuries from a beating executed by Jereh Lubrin, Rafael Rodriguez, and Matthew Farris. Amongst the injuries that lead to his death were lacerations to the liver and spleen, which was nearly severed in two. Tyree was ultimately found in his cell naked and covered in vomit and feces.
The defense had attempted to argue that a medical examiner had drawn the incorrect conclusion that Tyree had been beaten to death, and stated that an investigation into the inmate's cell was inadequate. They argued that messages scrawled into the walls of Tyree's cell could have been a suicide note and that the injuries could have been caused by a fall from the toilet.
Text messages exchanged between the guards told another story. Private communications between guards showed them boasting and bragging about the violence they had committed against prisoners. Google history from Rodriguez showed him searching phrases like "can you die from punches to you," "can you die if someone punches you in the armpit" and "can you die if someone punches you in the rib."
CBS San Francisco adds that Tyree could be heard by nearby inmates saying “I’m sorry” and “Stop."
Family members of the three guards were seen crying when the guilty verdict was delivered.
The trio was also charged for assault under color of authority for an attack on schizophrenic inmate Juan Villa, which occurred on the same night Tyree was killed. Lubrin was charged on a seperate incident with Villa as well. A mistrial had been declared on those charges.
“Michael [Tyree] was a human being. Those jurors recognized that. He was loved. He mattered then and he will continue to matter with this verdict," said the victim's sister, Shannon Tyree.
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