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Last inmate sentenced in notorious O.C. jail-beating death

April 23, 2012 |  2:43 pm

Theo Lacy Jail

The final Orange County jail inmate was sentenced Monday to state prison for his role in the fatal gang beating and sexual assault of a fellow inmate who prisoners had incorrectly identified as a child molester, Orange County prosecutors said.

Eric Charles Miller, 26, of Huntington Beach, had pleaded guilty to one felony count of voluntary manslaughter for the October 2006 death of John Chamberlain, who was in custody at Theo Lacy Jail in Orange on misdemeanor charges of possessing child pornography, prosecutors said.

Miller was sentenced to six years in prison but — with credit for time served while in custody — he is expected to be released Monday or Tuesday, prosecutors said.

The case was part of wider allegations of rampant abuse in Orange County jails. According to grand jury testimony reviewed by The Times, Chamberlain was brutally attacked while the nearest guard watched television and sent personal text messages. It wasn't until an inmate stood in front of the guard station, waving his arms, that deputies realized something was wrong, according to testimony.

Miller was ordered by a so-called "shot-caller" in a white prison gang to attack Chamberlain because he was believed to be a child molester.

The “shot-caller,” identified as Jared Louis Petrovich, had decided with a shot-caller for a Latino gang in the jail that Chamberlain should be attacked, prosecutors said.

Petrovich and Raul Villafana, the leader for the Latino gang, offered 10 commissary items to any inmate who joined in the beating, prosecutors said.

And on Oct. 5, 2006, prosecutors said, two inmates led Chamberlain into a tucked-away area of the barracks, where he was pummeled, kicked and stomped as well as sexually assaulted by inmates.

Miller, who was sentenced Monday, was among the inmates who joined in the beating, prosecutors said. Miller punched and kicked Chamberlain several times, prosecutors said.

Chamberlain was taken to a hospital but died from his injuries. His ribs were broken in 43 places and he had fractures and contusions all over his body, according to prosecutors. A doctor testified that every one of his organs had been injured in the attack.

Miller is the ninth and final defendant to be sentenced in the killing. 

Inmate Stephen Paul Carlstron, 44, was sentenced in March to 15 years to life for his role in the killing.

Villafana, 25, was sentenced to 15 years to life for his role, as were Petrovich, 28, and Garrett Eugene Aguilar, 30 — all of whom were found guilty of one count of second-degree murder.

Miguel Guillen, 49, was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to 20 years to life because of two previous convictions for assault with deadly weapon.

Michael Stewart Garten, 26, was sentenced to 20 years for one felony count of voluntary manslaughter. Christopher Teague, 35, and Jeremy Dezso Culmann, 28, were each sentenced to 15 years in state prison on a felony count of voluntary manslaughter.

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— Stephen Ceasar and Rick Rojas

Photo: Theo Lacy Jail. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

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