Text Messages Take Center Stage At Santa Clara Jail Beating Trial

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – Were a series of text messages the seeds of a conspiracy or just sarcasm and banter between Santa Clara jail deputies?

A Santa Clara County Superior Court jury will need to determine the answer at the trial of three Santa Clara County jail deputies who allegedly beat an inmate to death.

Jereh Lubrin, 30, Rafael Rodriguez, 28, and Matthew Farris, 28, have ALL pleaded not guilty to murder charges in the death of 31-year-old mentally ill inmate Michael Tyree and the assault under color of authority of another mentally ill inmate in San Jose’s Main Jail on Aug. 26, 2015.

They currently are in the midst of their murder trial and on Monday jurors were allowed to see text messages between the deputies.

In a text message, jail guard Christian Wilton writes to Farris:

“I’m going to start pulling people out at 2 a.m. for no reason to twist them up.”

Farris replies:

“Come to the 6th (floor) bro we do it at 00:01 (one minute after Midnight).”

But on the stand, Wilton told jurors the texts were not serious. They were just “sarcasm and banter.”

In another text about a troublesome inmate, Farris texted another guard:

“We got’em bro. He was a (expletive)haha.”

The unidentified guard texted back:

“I wanted to hit him today.”

That guard testified that the word hit was meant to imply a search for the inmate for contraband, not any kind of physical assault.

In an earlier interview, Farris’ attorney – Bill Rapoport — said the texts are not what they seem.

“If any of you are foolish enough to use text messaging, I could go back and make something out of them that doesn’t exist,” he said. “They do have to be explained and they will be explained, but they are not part of any conspiracy.”

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