RIVERSIDE (AP) — A jury on Tuesday recommended the death penalty for a man convicted of killing a Riverside police officer who pulled him over while investigating a report of a hit-and-run accident involving a big rig.
After several hours of deliberations, jurors made the decision in the case against 46-year-old Earl Ellis Green, who was convicted last month of first-degree murder, said John Hall, a spokesman for the Riverside County district attorney's office.
Green was convicted of luring Officer Ryan Bonaminio down a darkened park path, beating him with a metal bar and shooting him with his own service weapon when Bonaminio slipped and fell during the foot chase in 2010.
Bonaminio, 27, a Riverside native and war veteran who served with the Army in Iraq, stopped Green while responding to a report about a hit-and-run accident. Prosecutors say Green got into the accident after stealing a big-rig truck.
Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach praised the jury's verdict, adding that Bonaminio was lying helpless on the ground when Green shot him.
"Whenever you have a police officer killed in the line of duty, I think that in and of itself is a strong factor" for the death penalty, Zellerbach said. "We have law enforcement personnel putting their lives on the line every day for our own safety."
Defense attorney Gail O'Rane declined to comment on the verdict.
Green was scheduled to be sentenced on June 25.
Green was also found guilty of one count of vehicle theft with a previous conviction for vehicle theft, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
During the penalty phase of the trial, prosecutor Michael Hestrin argued that Green was in control of his actions and didn't care that he killed Bonaminio.
O.G. Magno, one of the defense attorneys, said Green's troubled life contributed to his criminal behavior.