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Riverside police murder trial: closing arguments focus on intent

May 10, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
From the start, the prosecution and defense have said that Earl Ellis Green committed the crime, killing a Riverside police officer. But during closing arguments, Green's state of mind was at the heart of the murder case.

Green is charged with murdering 27-year-old Officer Ryan Bonaminio, a four-year veteran of the department and a United States Army Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Authorities say on the night of Nov. 7, 2010, Bonaminio tried to pull over a semi-truck believed to be involved in a hit-and-run collision near the 60 Freeway. Police say surveillance video shows Green as the driver of the truck that sped away.

The prosecution says that moment was a turning point for Green, who was a repeat offender and didn't want to go back to prison.

Green and Bonaminio got into a foot pursuit in Fairmount Park. Police say Bonaminio slipped on wet grass while trying to stop Green, who then attacked Bonaminio, grabbing his service gun and shooting him.

The prosecution recounted witness testimony about the three gunshots heard and Bonaminio's last words telling Green, "Don't do it." The first two shots were rapid, and then a pause before the third and fatal shot at close range.

Green was arrested two days later. Prior to the murder charge, Green had been arrested at least 13 times in Riverside County and was on parole from state prison.

During closing arguments, the prosecution called Green's actions brutal and cruel - an unimaginable horror.

Green's defense team told jurors during their final argument that Green did not set out to kill the Riverside police officer. Instead, they blamed a series of family problems that led to Green's irrational state of mind.

While they did not dispute their client's guilt in the murder, they said Green was only attempting to escape when it went horribly wrong, pleading with the jurors to deliver a verdict of second-degree murder.

Green is charged with one count of murder, along with two special circumstances for the murder of a police officer and murder to avoid imminent arrest. He has pleaded not guilty in the case.

If he is found guilty of first-degree murder and at least one of the special circumstance charges, Green could face the death penalty.

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