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Prosecutors Reveal Evidence In Inmate's Jailhouse Beating Death

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – Photos of an inmate allegedly murdered at the Santa Clara County Main Jail were made public for the first time Monday during the preliminary hearing of three Santa Clara County correctional deputies.

Jereh Lubrin, 29, Rafael Rodriguez, 27, and Matthew Farris, 27, have been charged with murder in the death of Michael Tyree, 31, as well as assault under the color of authority on Juan Villa, at the Main Jail in San Jose in late August.

Tyree had been arrested for petty theft and was being held in the county jail in a wing reserved for inmates who are in protective custody or have special needs.

Tyree's family was in court Monday and cried when they saw prosecutors display five photos of the 31-year-old inmate's naked body taken hours after he died.

Tyree's family didn't learn he was in the Main Jail until after he passed away, said Paula Canny, an attorney for Tyree's family.

The preliminary hearing is necessary to determine if there's enough evidence to put the defendants on trial, Canny said.

"There's probable cause to believe that the crimes as charged did indeed occur," she said.

Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Matthew Braker called sheriff's Sgt. Marc Carrasco to the witness stand at the Hall of Justice in San Jose.

Carrasco, an 18-year veteran of the department, was part of the investigations division's major crimes unit at the time of Tyree's death and in charge of investigating the murder.

Both inmates Villa and Tyree were being held at the Main Jail's sixth floor B pod, also known as a housing unit.

Tyree was held in cell 39 at a lower tier and Villa was in cell 48 at the upper tier, Carrasco said.

Farris, Lubrin and Rodriguez were assigned to supervise the A, B, and C pods, respectively, on the "D" shift from 6 p.m. on Aug. 26 to 6 a.m. on Aug. 27, Carrasco said.

During the early morning of Aug. 27, Carrasco said he was on-call and responded to the sixth floor, where he saw Tyree's body was covered in a yellow blanket outside of his cell.

When personnel from the Santa Clara County medical examiner's office arrived to the jail, the yellow covering was removed and revealed Tyree's naked body with his back on the ground, Carrasco said

There was vomit and what appeared to be feces on Tyree and the ground near his body and inside his cell, according to Carrasco.

Blood and bodily fluid were also seen at the back of the inmate's head, Carrasco said.

The sergeant also saw a breathing device in Tyree's mouth and pads over his chest used to administer CPR.

To figure out the timeline of what happened before and after Tyree's death, Carrasco said he referred to logbooks and video from a surveillance camera installed at an officer's station between the three pods.

At 9:10 p.m. on Aug. 27, the inmates took part in a clothing exchange in which they traded their dirty clothes for clean ones, which lasted for about an hour, Carrasco said.

Around 10:30 p.m., Lubrin returned to pod B with Farris to check if the inmates, who were locked in their cells, took extra clothes during the exchange and Rodriguez joined them about 20 minutes later, according to Carrasco.

Video footage played in court Monday showed the defendants turn off the lights to the pod and walk out at 11:09 p.m. They were seen taking off gloves and throwing them away in a garbage can at the officer's station.

Lubrin returned at 12:07 a.m. and minutes later issued a man down call in relation to Tyree, Carrasco said.

When Carrasco arrived to the floor at 2:42 a.m., he saw Tyree's covered body and the door to his cell was open.

The defendants had returned to work on the evening of Aug. 27 but were placed on leave. They handed over their duty belts and were escorted out of the jail, Carrasco said.

Michael Gaynor, a criminal investigator with the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office, also took the witness stand Monday and testified to an interview he had with a sheriff's deputy who taught the defendants when they attended the training academy.

Gaynor learned the defendants were taught defensive movements and the five levels of force to gain an inmate's compliance, which range from reaching a verbal agreement to using weapons that can lead to great bodily
harm or death.

They were taught to avoid hitting an inmate's head, neck, groin, spine, kidneys or back, Gaynor testified.

Under cross-examination by attorney Matthew Pavone, who's representing Rodriguez, Gaynor said that an officer decides on what method to use based on the behavior exhibited by the inmate.

While being questioned by Lubrin's attorney Judith Odbert, Gaynor testified that the training academy teaches deputies to punch the front portion of the body or on the side and to never strike the back of their target.

The defendants are out of custody on $1.5 million bail each and have pleaded not guilty to the charges. The preliminary hearing is scheduled to continue Tuesday morning.

Last summer, Rodriguez told the San Jose Mercury News the three guards never laid a hand on Tyree.

If the three defendants are put on trial and found guilty, they could be facing life in prison.

TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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