San Jose

Jury to Start Deliberating Thursday in Murder Trial of Santa Clara County Jail Guards

Three sheriff's correctional deputies are accused of beating inmate Michael Tyree to death

Jury deliberations are expected to begin Thursday morning in the murder trial of three Santa Clara County jail guards.

A prosecutor seeking to convict the correctional deputies for the beating death of mentally ill inmate Michael Tyree at San Jose's Main Jail in 2015. Closing arguments wrapped up Wednesday.

Jereh Lubrin, 30, and Rafael Rodriguez and Matthew Farris, both 28, could face life in prison if convicted in the beating of bipolar 31-year-old Tyree on Aug. 26, 2015, the night before he was found dead in his cell with his spleen ruptured nearly in two.

The three are also charged with the assault under color of authority of 48-year-old Juan Villa, a second mentally ill inmate, the same night.

The defense has claimed that Tyree's death was not a homicide, suggesting that he died by suicide by jumping onto the corner of the sink in his cell, rupturing his organs.

The prosecution said the jail guards thrived on the abuse of their power over inmates.

According to witness testimony, the assault on Tyree began after he mouthed off to a nurse during "pill call," when medication is distributed to inmates.

Some former inmates said they saw all three deputies in Tyree's cell and that one of the deputies turned off the cell light when they left, which would have been unusual.

The defense has attacked the inmates' testimony as inconsistent and accused some of them of being "professional witnesses" who believe their testimony could be rewarded with legal or immigration-related benefits, a claim that prosecutors have refuted.

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