RIVERSIDE, Calif. - A parolee who beat and gunned down a Riverside police officer trying to arrest him at the end of a foot chase was sentenced to death today.
Earl Ellis Green, 46, was convicted May 11 of murdering Officer Ryan Patrick Bonaminio, and less than four weeks later, the same eight-man, four-woman jury recommended that he be executed for the crime.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jean Leonard went along with the panel's recommendation after rejecting a motion by the defense for a reduction in Green's sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Deputy District Attorney Mike Hestrin, who prosecuted the case along with DDA John Aki, called Green one of "the worst" criminals he had ever come across.
"This man has no empathy for any other human being on Earth," Hestrin told City News Service earlier this month. "He is a stone-cold killer and will be to the day he dies."
During the penalty trial, Hestrin pointed to repeated instances of violence perpetrated by Green -- including spousal beatings, a near-fatal assault on a fellow inmate and a takeover robbery -- that proved the ex-con was a hardened criminal.
Remembering the 27-year-old Bonaminio as an "American hero" for his Army service in Iraq and four years as a law enforcement officer, Hestrin said the Riverside native gave his attacker the opportunity to do the right thing in that fateful encounter between them.
"Ryan put up his hands and said those words that will haunt us all: `Don't do it,"' Hestrin said. "'Don't do it' means `You have the power; you have me; I'm at your mercy.' Ryan gave Earl Green the choice of his life, and ... Earl Green chose hatred, violence and cruelty."
Deputy Public Defender O.G. Magno acknowledged that his client's actions were "inexcusable, unjustifiable and unforgivable," but pleaded with jurors to take into account the challenges and hardships Green had endured, particularly in his formative years.
Magno said Green witnessed his father beat his mother and came of age in a public housing project where violence was a way of life, having few role models and no moral guidance.
"By the time he's 16, he is diagnosed with ADHD, he's delinquent, immature, out of control and trusts no one. Earl is broken," the attorney said.
Green killed Bonaminio after the officer attempted to stop him for fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run fender-bender on Market Street on the night of Nov. 7, 2010. The ex-con was in a stolen semi truck at the time.
Green fled through Fairmount Park, into the parking lot of the nearby Center for Spiritual Living on Ridge Road. As Bonaminio caught up with the defendant, the officer lost his footing in a freshly watered planter and fellin the mud.
Green pounced on the lawman, smashing him in the head three times with a steel pipe. The defendant then grabbed the severely injured officer's .40-caliber Glock pistol and, as Bonaminio stood to face him with his hands in front of his face, Green shot him in the head at point-blank range.