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Child molester killed; 5 inmates charged

October 20, 2008 11:40:24 AM PDT
An Indio jury resumed deliberations Monday in the murder trial of five men charged in the fatal beating of a convicted child molester serving with them at Chuckawalla State Prison.Jurors had the day off Friday. In the first day of deliberations the previous day, one panelist was removed for misconduct and replaced with an alternate.

One of the five defense attorneys, James Silva, previously said the court was notified that the replaced juror conducted an independent investigation via the Internet regarding personnel at the hospital where the victim was initially treated.

The judge questioned each juror "as to whether or not it would affect their ability to be fair and objective in further deliberations," Silva said. "After the interviews, the court made a finding that the juror violated one of his instructions ... not to conduct any independent investigation ... and he was dismissed and replaced by an alternate juror."

Robert James Deffenbaugh, 27, Frank George Barbosa, 55, Jack Stewart Woller, 23, Reggie Allan Bullock Jr., 25, and Johnnie Delerae Johnson, 29, are all charged with murder in the June 21, 2005, attack on Michael Green at the prison near Blythe.

The 45-year-old Los Angeles area man died of his injuries several days later.

Deputy District Attorney Anthony Orlando said in his closing argument last Wednesday that each of the accused played a role in the fatal attack, and all five should be held responsible.

"This case is not easy. ...We all despise child molesters," the prosecutor told the jury. "Under our system, Mr. Green was sentenced and was serving out his time. I don't expect you to like Mr. Green, but I expect you to follow the law."

Defense attorneys maintain that their clients had wanted to intimidate the convicted child molester into seeking protective custody to get him moved out of their cellblock and did not intend to kill him.

Orlando told jurors the defendants could have done "numerous things" to get Green off the yard, including "intimidation," but chose another route.

"There had to be a message sent," the prosecutor said. "There had to be a violent act."

Bullock's attorney, Melanie Roe, told the jury in her closing argument Wednesday that "this will be a tough case for all of you because the evidence was underwhelming."

"None of the six inmates who came here and testified saw the assault," Roe said.

The defense attorney said Green got up on his own after the assault and fell several times on the sink and concrete floor. She noted that medical experts testified those injuries could have also caused blunt force trauma.

Attorney John Patrick Dolan, who is representing Woller, told the panel that the prosecution's theory supporting the guilt of his client was "virtually non-existent and, for the most part, a figment of the prosecutor's imagination ... certainly not based on any evidence presented."

Green suffered severe head trauma when beaten in a bathroom in the C Yard, 7 building. 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.

Green's family made the decision to take him off life-support systems several days later.

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


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