JUDGE

Texts Between Santa Clara County Correctional Deputies Accused of Murdering Inmate Show Pattern of Abuse, Prosecutors Say

New court documents reveal some troubling details about the Santa Clara County correctional deputies accused of murdering an inmate.

The documents reveal text messages allegedly sent by the deputies to each other, showing what prosecutors said is a pattern of inmate abuse.

Inmate Juan Villa is another of the deputies' victims, according to prosecutors. Villa appeared in drug court Thursday before Judge Stephen Manley.

Prosecutors said Matthew Farris, Jereh Lubrin and Rafael Rodriguez abused Villa before going into the jail cell of Michael Tyree and beating him to death.

Both Villa and Tyree were diagnosed with mental illness.

"When staff isn't trained to deal with that -- it's a real tough environment anyway -- problems are going to occur," said Jennifer Hultgren, deputy public defender.

Prosecutors filed paperwork with the court to keep the deputies locked up under no bail. The paperwork contains text messages allegedly between the deputies months before Tyree's death.

In one text, Rodriguez allegedly sent a message to Farris saying "he was surprised about me slapping him that he sat on his bed with hand on his cheek...hahaha. I told him I bet your parents never spanked you but I will. haha."

In another text, Farris allegedly told Rodriguez about his cell block assignment on the sixth floor: "I love 6-A. No camera and no groups. I hope I keep it."

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s department is now teaching academy cadets how to deal with mentally ill inmates after the alleged beating death of a prisoner at the hands of correctional deputies. Robert Handa reports.

Lonnie Valdez said her daughter was also beaten by guards at the Elmwood Jail.

"Seen it with my own two eyes, and it's sad," Valdez said. "My God you don't beat someone that has mental problems."

The sheriff reports that almost half the inmates in jail suffer from a mental illness.

On Wednesday, cadets were also in Manley's court as part of a one-week training on dealing with mental health inmates.

Villa's lawyer said that is not enough.

"No, I don't think a week is enough experience for correctional officers to be involved with clients that have mental issues," Hultgren said.

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