Defense tells jury that parolee killed Riverside police officer
Earl Ellis Green, 46, shot and killed Officer Ryan P. Bonaminio, 27, on a chilly night in a church parking lot in November 2010 -- that much was not in dispute during the trial that opened Monday in Riverside.
"Earl Ellis Green murdered Officer Bonaminio," Deputy Capital Defender Gail O’Rane told the jury, moments after prosecutor Michael Hestrin laid out a chilling account of a Riverside police officer’s final moments.
The slaying, O’Rane argued, was not premeditated, and does not merit a first-degree murder charge that carries a potential death penalty, sought by prosecutors.The defense offered little hint of how it will make its case.
Prosecutors, meanwhile, offered graphic, minute-by-minute details of the slaying.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is a case about brutality and cruelty," Hestrin told the jury.
Investigators said Green, a convicted felon on parole, jumped out of a stolen truck that was being pursued by police, and ran into Riverside's Fairmount Park. Hestrin said that Bonaminio followed Green into the parking lot of a church near the park. When the officer slipped in the mud near a stairwell, Hestrin said, Green emerged from the shadows and bludgeoned the officer with a metal pipe. Green then took the officer’s gun and loaded the chamber with a new round, according to the prosecution.
A homeless man who witnessed the shooting, Stephen McQueen, testified Monday that the officer told the accused: “Don’t do it. Don’t do it.’’
Prosecutors said Green ignored the pleas and fired twice at Bonaminio -– missing both times. Green then walked up to Bonaminio, injured and on his knees at the time, and fired at the back of the officer’s head from a foot or so away, Hestrin said. “He died there, on the cold and dirty asphalt," he told the jury.
-- Phil Willon in Riverside