Skip to main content

Three Santa Clara County correctional officers convicted of mentally-ill inmate's murder

For release on June 1, 2017  

Sean Webby
Public Communications Officer 
(408) 792-2997

Three Santa Clara County correctional officers convicted of mentally-ill inmate's murder

A jury convicted three Santa Clara County correctional officers today of the murder of mentally ill inmate Michael Tyree.

The guards – Matthew Farris, 28, Jereh Lubrin, 30, and Rafael Rodriguez, 28 – were accused of beating Tyree so that it caused massive and eventually fatal internal injuries. Numerous inmates heard Tyree screaming, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Stop.”

The jury did not reach a verdict on charges of assaulting another inmate minutes before their fatal assault on Tyree. The verdicts followed a 4-month trial.  The guards face 15 years to life in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for September 1, 2017 in the Hall of Justice in San Jose.

“Michael Tyree’s tragedy was worthy of our outrage, his death will never be invisible,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “We will think of him as we work toward making the justice system a better, more fair and safe place for the vulnerable men and women suffering from mental illness. I am committed to doing that. We will never forget Michael Tyree in our fight against those who see vulnerabilities as a chance to harm, instead of ​an opportunity to help.”

On August 26, 2015 around 10:50 p.m., the three guards entered Tyree’s cell. The guards beat him to death. 

Officer Lubrin and Officer Rodriguez later entered Tyree’s cell again just after midnight to find him dead on the floor, covered in his own waste. Tyree was pronounced dead at 12:35 a.m. The Medical Examiner estimated that his internal injuries to his liver and spleen were so severe that he died within minutes of the trauma.

Michael Tyree was in custody related to his probation for misdemeanor crimes. 

“Michael was a human being. Those jurors recognized that. He was loved. He mattered then and he will continue to matter with this verdict,” Shannon Tyree, the victim’s sister, said. She thanked the prosecutor Matt Braker and the District Attorney’s Office “who made the impossible possible today.”

Tagged in: