SAN JOSE, Calif. (BCN) - Three Santa Clara County sheriff's deputies who have pleaded not guilty to charges of murdering an inmate at the Santa Clara County Main Jail in San Jose are scheduled for a trial early next year.
Superior Court Judge Deborah Ryan set a Jan. 23 trial date for Jereh Lubrin, 29, Matthew Farris, 27, and Rafael Rodriguez, 27, who have pleaded not guilty to charges of murdering Michael Tyree, 31, and assault under the color of authority on Juan Villa, 46, last August.
The defendants, who are all out of custody on bail, appeared at the Hall of Justice in San Jose this afternoon with their respective attorneys.
The case is moving forward and the trial could last anywhere between four weeks to four months, Farris's attorney William Rapoport said after today's hearing.
The trio is also scheduled for a hearing Tuesday on a subpoena for the two inmates' medical records, which Tyree's estate and Villa's attorney have opposed, Rapoport said.
The deputies, who remain on leave from the sheriff's office, were held over for trial in March after a four-day preliminary hearing when testimony was heard from Villa, other inmates and investigators.
Santa Clara County sheriff's Sgt. Marc Carrasco had testified that the guards were assigned to work a shift that began the evening of Aug. 26 and continued to the following morning on the sixth floor of the Main Jail, which is next door to the Hall of Justice.
Tyree and Villa were kept at the "B" pod, where the alleged murder and assault occurred, Carrasco said.
Video footage taken from a hallway outside the pod showed the guards go in and out of the pod and dispose of their gloves less than two hours before a man down call was issued for Tyree, whose body was found outside his cell, Carrasco said.
Villa testified that he had locked himself in his cell, where the three guards punched him and minutes later he heard screams from another inmate's unit.
The case led the county to form a Blue Ribbon Commission on Improving Custody Operations led by retired Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell, who submitted the group's recommendations to the board of supervisors in April.
The commission's more than 120 recommendations included calls for transparency in the disciplinary system for correctional officers, an overhaul in the inmate complaint process and changing the leadership in custody operations.