January 27, 2012

Inmates get 15 years in jail-beating death

1-27-2012 California:

The decisions made by defendants on the day John Chamberlain was killed “simply defy reason,” the judge says.

SANTA ANA – An Orange County judge Friday sentenced two more of the five inmates convicted of beating another prisoner to death to 15 years to life in prison.

While family members and supporters of defendants Garret Eugene Aguilar, 29, of Anaheim and Jared Louis Petrovich, 28, of Tustin were present for the sentencing, no one from victim John Chamberlain's family was at the hearing.

Aguilar and Petrovich were among five inmates who were convicted last year in the Oct. 5, 2006, slaying of Chamberlain, 41, at Theo Lacy Facility, a county jail.

Prosecutors said they and other inmates targeted Chamberlain because they believed he was a child molester. Chamberlain had been awaiting trial on a misdemeanor charge of possessing child pornography.

He was punched, kicked and stomped on and eventually lost consciousness. He was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The beating, which triggered several investigations, occurred about 68 feet from where one Orange County sheriff's deputy admitted he was watching "COPS" on television and was dogged by allegations – that were never proven – that deputies helped set up the attack.

"Whether a deputy sheriff was involved in instigating the incident or not, it is not an excuse for beating a guy to death," Superior Court Judge James Stotler said at the sentencing.

He called the defendants' actions "awful," asking Aguilar and Petrovich to reflect on the direction of their lives.

"There were decisions made on that day when Mr. Chamberlain was killed that simply defy reason," Stotler said.

Following the sentencing, Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh said the defendants tried to shift the blame to jailhouse deputies.

"(Their attorneys were) anxious to talk about the deputies and how deputies had caused the death of Chamberlain, pointing the finger at everybody but their clients," he said. "Today the truth prevailed ... The ones that killed Chamberlain are the defendants we brought to court and the other inmates."

Last month, Miguel Guillen, 49, of Santa Ana was the first to be sentenced after an Orange County jury earlier in the year found him, Aguilar, Petrovich, Stephen Paul Carlstrom, 43, of Anaheim and Raul Villafana, 25, of Santa Ana guilty of the attack.

"Hopefully this will bring everybody closure," Petrovich's attorney Keith Davidson said after the Friday hearing.

Carlstrom and Villafana will be sentenced in February and April respectively; each faces 15 years to life in prison.

Three other inmates charged in the slaying have pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and a fourth is expected to do so.

Michael Stewart Garten, 26, of Santa Ana was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Christopher Teague, 35, of Long Beach and Jeremy Dezso Culmann, 28, of Corona were each sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Another co-defendant, Eric Charles Miller, 26, of Huntington Beach, is charged with one felony count of murder and faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

Stotler, the judge, concluded the hearing by repeating to Aguilar the words he said he heard a preacher say in a movie: "'It is not what you've done in the past, it is what you are now.' End of story." ..Source.. by VIK JOLLY / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

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