SAN JOSE, Calif. - A jury of five women and seven men today convicted three Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office correctional officers of second-degree murder for the death of 31-year-old mentally ill inmate Michael Tyree on Aug. 26, 2015 while in custody at the Santa Clara County Jail in San Jose. Tyree died of severe internal injuries to his liver and spleen.
Nearly half of the spectator seats were filled with immediate family members of the defendants, 28-year-old Matthew Farris, 30-year-old Jereh Lubrin and 28-year-old Rafael Rodriguez. Also in court was Michael Tyree's sister Shannon.
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The defendants' relatives cried as they heard the verdicts read, one by one for each of the three former correctional officers.
After the jury was polled individually to confirm their unanimous verdict, Farris, Lubrin and Rodriguez were put in handcuffs and taken out of the courtroom. They will be in court again on Sept. 1 for sentencing.
Second-degree murder carries a possible sentence of 15 years to life. During the nearly four-month long trial, the defendants had been free on bail.
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Family members did not speak to reporters as they left the Hall of Justice. District Attorney Jeff Rosen, prosecutor Matt Braker, and Sheriff Laurie Smith did address a large group of reporters and photographers.
Of Tyree, Rosen said, "his death will never be invisible. We will think of him as we work toward making the justice system a better, more fair and safe place for the vulnerable men and women suffering from mental illness."
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A blue ribbon panel appointed by the County Board of Supervisors spent six months last year reviewing jail operations and recommending changes that will improve how inmates with mental health issues are treated. More training of officers and better record keeping are also being implemented.
The Board of Supervisors recently reviewed progress in the implementation of reforms a week ago.