Three Santa Clara County correctional deputies will be held over for trial on charges of murder and assault on two mentally ill inmates in the Main Jail in San Jose last year.
Superior Court Judge Ron Del Pozzo made the ruling this evening following a four-day preliminary hearing for Jereh Lubrin, 29, Matthew Farris, 27, and Rafael Rodriguez, 27.
The trio is scheduled to return to court on March 14 for further arraignment.
The defendants are accused of murdering Michael Tyree, 31, and assault under the color of authority on Juan Villa, 46, at the Main Jail in San Jose on the night of Aug. 26.
The two inmates were both housed in the Main Jail's 6B housing pod where Lubrin was assigned to work, while Farris and Rodriguez were assigned to work two other pods on the floor, according to sheriff's investigators.
The judge also ruled that Villa was competent in his testimony given on Wednesday, which corroborated statements the inmate made in interviews six months ago and accounts from other witnesses.
Villa made "great efforts" to recall what happened at the housing pod, which Del Pozzo said was impressive.
Rodriguez's attorney Matthew Pavone had argued that Villa was not sufficiently competent and Lubrin's attorney Judith Odbert said the inmate showed his perceptions were distorted.
During Thursday's hearing Deputy District Attorney Matthew Braker called to the witness stand Dr. Joseph O'Hara, a forensic pathologist who has worked at the Santa Clara County medical examiner's office for the past 13 years.
O'Hara, who has performed more than 3,000 autopsies, was on-call during the early morning of Aug. 27 and arrived to the Main Jail around 4:30 a.m.
O'Hara said he performed Tyree's autopsy a day later and
determined the 31-year-old inmate died of multiple blunt force injuries in a homicide.
Tyree was about 170 pounds and stood about 6 feet 1 inch tall when he died, according to O'Hara.
Tyree's liver and spleen were lacerated, which led about 40 to 50 percent of his blood to collect in his abdomen, meaning he bled to death internally, O'Hara said.
It can take a person five to 50 minutes to die if their abdomen is full of blood, according to O'Hara.
The amount of blood Tyree lost led him become to lethargic, fall into a coma and die, O'Hara testified.
The cut to his liver was on the back side on the left lobe, O'Hara said.
The wound was Y-shaped, about 2.5 inches in length and width and an inch deep, according to O'Hara.
The doctor said he had seen similar gashes from people who died from car crashes, high-impact sports such as rugby or falling off a roof.
An injury to the liver can lead to decreased blood pressure, which forces the body to compensate for the loss with increased heartbeats and rapid breaths, O'Hara said.
Tyree could've received the spleen injury from pressure to his back or a blow to the upper left side of his abdomen, O'Hara said.
The 31-year-old man also had injuries to his head and 15 small groups of bruises, according to O'Hara.
Most of the bruises on Tyree were blue, red or purple, indicating he suffered them at or about the time of his death, O'Hara said.
A check of Tyree's medical record showed no history or defects in his brain of a seizure disorder and the autopsy ruled out suicide, O'Hara said.
Under questioning by Odbert, O'Hara said there were four injuries to Tyree's head that the inmate couldn't have suffered in a fall.
O'Hara also said there was a half-percent chance that Tyree's liver was cut during CPR.
The defense attorneys brought in court today their own witness, Robert Freitas, who was in custody at the 6B pod when the alleged murder and assault happened.
Freitas testified that Tyree said he wanted to kill himself while they were in line during pill call on the night of Aug. 26.
Tyree attempted to sneak his medication into his pocket, but the nurse caught him and an argument ensued, according to Freitas.
Lubrin was giving Tyree a hard time over what happened with the nurse and walked the inmate back to his cell, Freitas said.
When the three jail guards did cell searches later that night,
Freitas recalled hearing yells, screams and banging sounds from Tyree's cell, which was five spots away from Freitas' unit.
Freitas also heard Tyree say that "If you don't (expletive) kill me I'm gonna kill myself" and "It hurts, stop."
Sheriff's Sgt. Marc Carrasco was also called to the witness stand today and testified to an interview with Kevin Lanier, an inmate who lived next door to Tyree at the jail.
After the deputies left Tyree's cell, Lanier said he heard two
thump sounds that sounded as if someone fell from a sink or toilet from the neighboring unit, according to Carrasco.
Lanier also heard Tyree crying and pacing back and forth, Carrasco said.
Lanier said he heard Farris order Tyree to get up and banging noises from the adjacent cell, according to Carrasco.