Convicted killer of Riverside police officer receives death sentence
A judge Monday ordered Earl Ellis Green sentenced to death for fatally shooting Riverside police officer Ryan Bonaminio at point-blank range as the officer pleaded for his life.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jean Pfeiffer Leonard declined to overturn the jury's verdict early this month that Earl Ellis Green, 46, should face capital punishment for the November 2010 slaying of the Iraq War veteran, who had been on the department for four years at the time of the killing.
Jurors convicted Green of first-degree murder with special circumstances and weeks later determined he should receive the death penalty.
On the night of the shooting, Green, a convicted felon then on parole, jumped out of a stolen big rig that had been involved in a hit-and-run accident and ran into Riverside's Fairmount Park.
Bonaminio, 27, chased Green into a parking lot at an adjacent church. When the officer slipped in the mud near a stairwell, Green emerged and bludgeoned the officer with a metal pipe, prosecutors told the jury.
Green then took the injured officer's .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun and chambered a new round, according to the prosecution.
"The officer was already pretty much helpless, unconscious and defenseless when he was executed with his own gun," Riverside Dist. Atty. Paul Zellerbach said.
Stephen J. McQueen, a homeless man who volunteered at the church, told the jury he witnessed the shooting while smoking a cigarette in the parking lot. Bonaminio held his hands up and told the killer, "Don't do it. Don't do it," McQueen testified.
In his opening statement, prosecutor Michael Hestrin said Green's first two shots missed the officer. Green then walked up to Bonaminio, severely injured and on his knees, and fired at the back of the officer's head from a foot or so away.
"He died there, on the cold and dirty asphalt,'' Hestrin told the jury.
-- Richard Winton