A California appellate court reversed the murder convictions of three Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputies, reports CBS News. In 2015, the three were convicted in the deadly beating of an inmate with mental health conditions, Michael Tyree. Deputies Jereh Lubrin, Matthew Farris and Rafael Rodriguez, were convicted of second-degree murder by a San Jose jury. On Monday, Justice Thomas Goethals said a 2018 state law provided that the "natural and probable consequences" theory used by the jury was improper. While the jury instruction was valid at the time, it no longer is.
During the trial, the judge told jurors about the “natural and probable consequences” theory, meaning that someone could be found guilty of murder without intending to kill because the actions resulted in the victim’s death. This meant that the jury did not have to consider each deputy’s individual responsibility or awareness. Prosecutors said the three officers severely beat Tyree, 31, in his cell. He suffered from internal bleeding, and damage to his liver and spleen, dying hours after the attack. Tyree was incarcerated for misdemeanor theft and drug possession. He was alone in a cell in a section of the jail reserved for inmates needing protective custody or who require special attention.