A prosecutor argued Monday June 4 for jurors to deliver the death penalty to Earl Ellis Green for the murder of Riverside Police Officer Ryan Bonaminio, telling them, “Let the punishment fit the crime. Let the punishment fit the man.”
During an emotional 90-minute presentation, Deputy District Attorney Michael Hestrin reviewed the case for jurors, telling them “It is not enough to understand the crime. Now you have to understand the man.”
Hestrin said Green was a man who made choices and acted with cool rationality on the night of Bonaminio’s murder — taking the officer’s gun, fleeing in the truck he had stolen and driving it back to the truck rental lot from which it was taken so it sat among dozens of other trucks that looked just the same.
“Earl Green at this moment is a man in control of himself. He’s making rational decisions, one after the other, “Hestrin told jurors, calling the efforts by defense witnesses to say Green had mental problems that led him to commit murder “psychobabble.”
Hestrin ended his presentation with a slide show of Bonaminio’s life and his funeral.
Sobs could be heard in the courtroom, which was otherwise so quiet that the clock’s second hand could be heard ticking.
Hestrin told jurors the death penalty was right for Green because “he doesn’t care” that he killed the officer.
Deputy Capital Public Defender O.G. Magno will make the closing argument for the defense.
Superior Court Judge Jean Leonard told the eight-man, four-woman jury that she believes they will begin deliberations around noon.
The jurors must decide whether aggravating factors about Green’s current crime and those from his past presented during the penalty phase
Green was convicted of killing Bonaminio, 27, after a foot pursuit along the edge of Riverside’s Fairmount Park late on the night of Nov. 7, 2010, after a traffic stop. Green jumped from the big-rig cab he was driving and Bonaminio chased him. The officer did not know the rig was stolen.
Bonaminio slipped and fell while chasing Green, who then attacked Bonaminio with a solid metal dumbbell bar and beat him on the head. Green then gained control of the officer’s gun and shot him in the head.
Green’s attorneys conceded during opening statements of the guilt phase that their client had murdered Bonaminio, but they asked jurors to consider a second-degree murder conviction. The panel returned a first-degree conviction after a little more than two hours’ deliberation.
Bonaminio was a graduate of Riverside’s Ramona High School and an Army veteran of two deployments to Iraq.