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Inmate sentenced in notorious O.C. jail beating death

March 21, 2012 |  1:40 pm

Jail beating
An inmate in an Orange County jail was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years to life in 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.

Stephen Paul Carlstron, 44, had been found guilty last year of second-degree murder 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.

The case had a broader significance, as it was part of allegations of rampant abuse in Orange County jails. According to grand jury testimony obtained 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.

Prosecutors said Carlstrom was dispatched by a so-called "shot-caller" in a white prison gang to confront Chamberlain and find out why he was incarcerated.

Carlstrom reported back to the shot-caller, identified as Jared Louis Petrovich, who 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 that joined in the beating, prosecutors said.

And on Oct. 5, 2006, prosecutors said, Carlstrom and another inmate, Garrett Eugene Aguilar, led Chamberlain into a tucked-away area of the barracks, where he was pummeled, kicked and stomped on, as well as sexually assaulted, by a number of other inmates.

Chamberlain was later taken to a hospital, where he 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.

Carlstrom is the eighth defendant to be sentenced in the killing. Villafana, 25, was sentenced to 15 years to life for his role in the killing, as were Petrovich, 28, and 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.

Micheal 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.

An additional inmate, Eric Charles Miller, 26, has been charged with murder but has not yet been tried.


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-- Rick Rojas

Photo: News conference inside Theo Lacy facility near the area where an inmate was beaten to death by fellow inmates. Credit:  Karen Tapia-Andersen / Los Angeles Times