Thursday, September 25, 2008

Prisoners proud they beat child molestor to death

Prosecutor: Accused Jailhouse Killers 'Proud Of What They Did'
Defense: Accused Were Looking To Intimidate, Not Maim Inmate

INDIO, Calif. -- Lawyers representing four of five men charged in the killing of a fellow inmate told an Indio jury Wednesday that their clients did not intend to kill the convicted child molester, but wanted to intimidate him into seeking protective custody to get him moved.

But prosecutor Anthony Orlando disputed the defense version of what happened at Chuckawalla State Prison near Blythe on June 21, 2005, saying two of the defendants beat Michael Green so savagely that he never regained consciousness, and all five were in on the plan and "proud of what they did."

Security was tight as the trial got under way at the Larson Justice Center for Robert James Deffenbaugh, 27, Frank George Barbosa, 55, Jack Stewart Woller, 23, Reggie Allan Bullock, Jr., 25, and Johnnie Dalerae Johnson, 29.

Nine sheriff's deputies positioned throughout the courtroom of Superior Court Judge John J. Ryan.

Green suffered severe head trauma when beaten in a bathroom in the C Yard, 7 building, according to court documents. He was transported to Palo Verde Hospital in Blythe and then moved to the critical care unit at a UC San Diego hospital, where he remained unresponsive.

The 45-year-old Los Angeles man's family made the decision to take him off life support systems several days later.

The prosecutor told jurors that many offenses are accepted by the general prison population, but convicted child molesters are "in trouble."

Orlando said it's routine for prisoners to ask a new inmate for "paperwork" when they arrive in the yard, which he said Deffenbaugh and Woller did to the victim.

Green told them he did not have his papers, but information that he was in custody on a child molestation conviction was passed on to Barbosa, the "shot- caller," who then ordered Bullock and Johnson to "take him out," the prosecutor alleged.

That night after "last count," Bullock and Johnson followed Green into the bathroom and savagely beat him, Orlando alleged.

Bullock's attorney, Melanie Roe, said the case is not "black and white" and has two parts -- the assault, and what she contended was delayed -- and lacking -- medical care to Green.

"There are no eyewitnesses to this incident, and stories vary," Roe said in her opening statement.

She told jurors that "evidence will show no person charged intended to kill him (Green)." Instead, the intention was to get him moved to another facility to finish out his sentence, she said.

John Patrick Dolan, who is defending Woller, said his client was on hand when Green was approached and asked for "paperwork." Woller was silent or "maybe said a few words as he stood around," the attorney said.

Dolan said his client, who is doing time for a car theft conviction and had been due to be paroled in a few months, did nothing wrong. He was following an "honor among thieves or a code of honor," where inmates ask for paperwork to determine the bottom order -- child molesters and rapists, the lawyer said.

"The intention of asking (is) to get them ... to ask for protective custody," which would remove them from interacting with prisoners who consider child molesters the lowest type of criminal, Dolan said.

James Silva, who is representing Barbosa, denied his client was the "shot caller," as alleged by the prosecution.

"Barbosa is not guilty of conspiracy with any of these individuals," Silva told jurors. "He did not give the order to assault Green."

Johnson's attorney, Cameron Quinn, said his client was a "short- timer" who, at the time of the attack, was soon to be released.

"It did not make sense for his to subject himself to this," Quinn said.
The attorney told jurors that placing a child molester in the general prison population tends to "stir things up."

Quinn said the term used by inmates is to "roll up" someone they want moved -- but that means to "rough up ... beat someone up to get him out, and not to kill them."

Deffenbaugh's attorney did not make an opening statement.

The trial, which is expected to last five or six weeks, is in recess until Monday, when testimony is scheduled to begin.

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