Closing arguments made in murder trial for Santa Clara jail guards in alleged beating death

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Closing arguments began today in the trial involving the three correctional guards charged with the murder of a mentally ill inmate in San Jose's main jail. The prosecutor in the case spent the day trying to convince jurors these three jail guards abused their power, beat an inmate, and left him to die.

The three Santa Clara County correctional guards sat expressionless in court Tuesday as Deputy District Attorney Matt Braker told jurors, "they thrived on power over inmates."

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The DA argued Matthew Farris, Jereh Lubrin, and Rafael Rodriguez are responsible for beating mentally ill inmate Michael Tyree to death in August of 2015.

"I think it's very important that the Santa Clara County DA's office responded in this way and that the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office proactively investigated its own officers so, I think it's a profoundly important case," Tyree family attorney Paula Canny said.

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Braker pointed to evidence the morning after Tyree's death. Rodriguez had done Google searches asking "Can you die if someone punches you in the armpit? Can you die from punches in the rib?"

The prosecution relied on testimony from numerous inmates in the same cell pod who said they heard screaming, a voice saying "I'm sorry," and loud booms and thuds.

"Inmate testimony was critical to establish the setting for everything," Canny said.

The prosecution also reminded jurors of text messages between Farris and Rodriguez where they are joking about being physical with inmates and glad there are no cameras on the jail floor where they work.

A doctor testified Tyree had multiple traumas all over his body consistent with a beating homicide. However, the defense is expected to reiterate during their statements this was an accident, not a beating. Attorneys maintain Tyree stood on a toilet and either jumped or slipped and that's what caused the injury.
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