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RIVERSIDE: Trial on track for man accused of slaying Riverside officer

22 Mar

The capital murder case for the man accused of slaying Riverside Police officer Ryan Bonaminio remains on schedule to begin next month, with attorneys today discussing procedures, including jury selection and court room security, leading up to the trial of Earl Ellis Green.

Green, 46, has pleaded not guilty in the Nov. 7, 2010 beating and shooting death of Bonaminio during a foot chase along the edge of Riverside’s Fairmount Park. Jury selection is set to begin on April 9, with hearings scheduled for three days beginning April 4 to handle any new motions. None had been filed as of today. Green could face the death penalty if convicted on the murder charge.

During the hearing today before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jean P. Leonard, the courtroom bailiff and a sheriff’s sergeant discussed possible security issues during the trial of Green, a Rubidoux parolee with a long record of convictions who has been in custody since a few days after Bonaminio was slain.

While there were no specific incidents to cite, Green has had to be talked to a few times about his possible behavior in court, the bailiff said.

One issue that could arise is keeping jurors from seeing the defendant restrained during trial, although there are devices that can be concealed from the panel’s view either by clothing or the counsel table. Defendants wearing shackles are brought into court and seated before jurors enter the room.

Green will be “dressed out” for trial, meaning he will not have to appear before jurors in his jail scrubs. Male in-custody defendants almost always wear a suit and tie.

Prosecution and defense attorneys agreed to meet with the bailiff and his sergeant to go over any concerns. If prosecutors decide to file any motions regarding Green and restraints, they will have to do it by a March 29 deadline, Leonard said.

Prospective jurors will be given questionnaires to start their possible service on the highly publicized case. Several court days have been set aside for the process, including questioning. The first elimination of prospective panelists will be those who cannot attend the entire trial, estimated by counsel at 2-1/2 to 3 months.

The night of the slaying, Bonaminio pulled a driver over as a suspect in a hit-and-run accident involving a tractor-trailer rig. The stop was on Market Street, which borders the east side of Fairmount Park.

A man prosecutors say was Green jumped out of the truck’s cab and ran toward the park. Bonaminio chased the man on foot, a scene captured by the dashboard camera in Bonaminio’s patrol car.

Bonaminio slipped and fell on wet pavement while chasing the man, who turned on the officer and used a short metal bar to beat him. The man then shot Bonaminio, a witness said at Green’s preliminary hearing.

Testimony indicated the officer’s service handgun was used in the shooting.

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