By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
"There's a child molester in [bunk] J7," Petrovich says Taylor remarked to his partner. "And you know what happens when there's a child molester." Petrovich claims that Taylor didn't mention Chamberlain by name, but then instructed him to ensure that the inmate in J7 was beaten up at 8 p.m. that evening, after dinner, when the inmates would be rewarded with an extra day room period.
"They wanted us to beat this dude up," Petrovich says. "He gave us an incentive. He didn't say we had to do it."
Petrovich further claims Taylor indicated that Chamberlain had to survive the assault without any obvious facial injuries. "He said, don't hit him from the neck up, just the neck down. Make sure he can walk out of here. I said okay."
At that point, Petrovich says, the deputies allowed him back into the barracks. He went to J Cube and saw Chamberlain sitting on his bunk and asked him why he was in jail. "He said some story about some freaking warrant, I don't remember, an out-of-state warrant, something petty," Petrovich recalls, adding that Chamberlain didn't seem particularly nervous. "I said, 'All right, see ya' and walked away. He was a creepy-looking dude. He looked weird. All those perverts look the same. He was like a little pig. Fat and little . . . I don't know what was up with that dude."
Petrovich left J Cube and approached the shot-caller for the Southsiders, a Latino inmate whose nickname was "Stretch." While only white inmates can beat up another white inmate, that rule doesn't apply to "child molesters or weirdos. They're wide open," Petrovich explains.
Telling the Southsiders about an upcoming beating was also a matter of respect. "When you are going to beat someone up, you have to tell them, so they don't start tripping. . . . He said, 'All right. Thanks for letting me know,'" Petrovich says.
Next, Petrovich went back to his bunk in D Cube. "I tell everyone in my cube that this guy [Chamberlain] is a child molester," he recalls. "Everyone just started getting pumped up: 'Let's get him!' People were like, 'Let's do this. Let's not wait until 8. Next thing I know, the day room opens. I'm playing cards, and I see Chamberlain walk down to D Cube, and he walks in, and that's when it happened."
The people Petrovich gathered for the attack were Petrovich's bunkmate Mike Garten, Christopher Teague, Carlstrom, Eric Miller and Garrett Aguilar. (Along with Petrovich, they were the first inmates to be charged with murdering Chamberlain.) Petrovich didn't want to say who escorted Chamberlain to D Cube. "I don't want to point fingers at anyone," he says. But several inmates later told investigators it was Aguilar, Petrovich's torpedo, who pushed Chamberlain into the corner of D Cube, where deputies couldn't see what happened next.
As Petrovich tells it, he sat at a metal table playing pinochle while the white inmates beat Chamberlain. He estimates the attack lasted roughly five minutes before Aguilar approached him to say that Chamberlain was lying on the floor. "Garrett comes up to me and says, 'We got a man down; come check this out,'" Petrovich says. "So I go into the cube and see [Chamberlain] on the floor. He was lying on the ground holding his sides, not talking. He was moaning."
He claims he told the inmates to stop the attack. "I said, 'That's it,'" Petrovich says. "'No more. It's over.'" Chamberlain, he insists, was still breathing. "I walk out of the cube, and I see 50 Mexicans running in there. I said, 'Stop,' but they kept on coming." The white inmates scattered, and Petrovich returned to his card game while the Latino inmates took their turn with Chamberlain.
"He was yelling for his life," Petrovich says. "'Please help me! Stop!' I could hear it from the card table maybe 30 feet away."
Petrovich estimates that the Latino inmates attacked Chamberlain for 15 to 20 minutes. "It was a whole herd of people," he says. "The Mexicans went in there, and who knows what they did? People were coming and going. They were getting him to confess. Someone was yelling at him what he was, and finally, he admitted he was a child molester. That's what I heard later. I heard they stuck a tube of toothpaste up his ass."
He recalls being amazed that the deputies didn't notice all the commotion. "You've got 200 people in the barracks," he says. "Every single person was looking at D Cube. You got 50 people in one cube for 20 minutes. Where are you dudes at?"
Petrovich continues, "Then Garrett comes up to me again and says, 'Hey, he's not breathing.' So I told him to wave the cops down and say 'man down.' Tell the cops to come out here. He had to stand up on the table because they weren't looking." Finally Taylor and Chapluk came running into the barracks. "They come out and say, 'What's happening?'" Petrovich says. "Chapluk ran into the cube. He looked like he was going to have a heart attack. Taylor asked Garrett what happened. Then Taylor made us all put our heads on the tables, and they brought all of us to the hold."