Three Santa Clara County jail guards convicted of fatally beating a mentally ill inmate will serve 15 years to life in prison. The sentence handed down Friday marks the end of a case that brought unprecedented scrutiny to the region’s two jails and spurred an ongoing reform effort.
Former correctional deputies Jereh Lubrin, Matt Farris and Rafael Rodriquez reportedly wept in the courtroom as Superior Court Judge David A. Cena sentenced them for the 2015 murder of Michael Tyree, who suffered from bipolar disorder and drug abuse. The sentence means they can apply for parole only after serving 15 years behind bars.
According to KQED, defense attorneys for the ex-deputies have already filed paperwork to appeal the sentence.
Tyree’s sister, Shannon Tyree, was unable to attend last week’s sentencing hearing, but prosecutor Matt Braker read a statement on her behalf in court. In it, she said her own life sentence started at 11am on Aug. 27, when the coroner called her with news of her brother’s death.
“Every day since then, I have thought of how forsaken he must have felt that night, how utterly alone, how terrified and I can’t forgive myself,” she wrote. “I will never get a chance to make a different choice for Michael, to tell him I’m so sorry that I didn’t understand that he was so afraid and I’ll never have another chance to tell him how much I love him. I’m accountable for failing Michael. These three men walked into his cell and beat him to death. And they are accountable for that.”