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
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In the hours following the attack, the entire population of F Barracks was herded into the chow hall while homicide investigators with the sheriff's department interviewed all three of the guards working the dormitory, as well as numerous inmates, and refused to allow the DA's office, which normally investigates jail homicides, access to the facility. With the notable exception of Petrovich, the other five inmates originally charged with murdering Chamberlain all tried to deny their roles in the crime, admitting they attacked Chamberlain only in follow-up interviews when investigators confronted them with eyewitness accounts of their involvement.
Teague claimed he was working out when the attack occurred and "did not get involved." Aguilar acknowledged waving to get the deputies' attention and said he knew Chamberlain was being beaten up, but according to an investigator's notes, he "denied participating." Carlstrom claimed he was playing dominoes when the attack happened. Miller, who investigators said "appeared to ramble in his speech," told a story that was "non-nonsensical"; after initially denying that he participated, Miller finally admitted that he broke his hand while punching Chamberlain in the head.
Only Petrovich admitted his role in the killing when first questioned, telling exactly the same story he tells now. According to notes from his initial interview, Petrovich told investigators he was the shot-caller for the Woods and had told the other inmates about Chamberlain being a child molester.
"Petrovich denied that he assaulted Chamberlain, but he admitted that he knew about the assault," the notes read. "He further said that he received the information about Chamberlain being a child molester from the deputies in F Barracks. . . . During the interview, Petrovich agreed that once he received the information about Chamberlain and relayed it to the other inmates, he 'sort of lit the fuse.'"
At one point, investigators asked Petrovich why he was being so forthcoming about his role in the murder. According to their notes, he "commented something to the effect of, the truth was going to come out, truth can't hurt."
As Petrovich's cohorts began to acknowledge their role in the murder, several of them also told investigators that Petrovich had told them Taylor had outed Chamberlain as a sex offender. While Teague, Aguilar and Carlstrom said Petrovich hadn't directly participated, both Garten and Miller insisted that Petrovich was downplaying his role in the attack and had in fact struck Chamberlain. Investigators played taped interviews of Garten's and Miller's statements to Petrovich. He continued to insist that he hadn't hit the man.
Investigators also questioned Taylor, Chapluk and a third guard, Philip Le, and "confronted them with the allegations made my [sic] inmate Jared Petrovich and [sic] well as a few other inmates." All three guards denied that anyone other than Chamberlain had been pulled out of the dormitory to speak with deputies that day.
"Taylor adamantly denied that he directly or indirectly told any of the inmates about Chamberlain's charges," one report says. "He also denied that, to his knowledge, any other deputies would have done that." Le told investigators that the video camera in the guard tower had been filming during the attack but that he had taped over that portion of the footage. The tape was running out, Le claimed, so to be able to continue filming, he rewound the tape and recorded over the incident itself. All that remained was Taylor telling Le to make a note in the guards' logbook that Chamberlain felt safe in the barracks.
Taylor subsequently refused to answer further questions posed by sheriff's investigators, hired an attorney and, later, refused to speak with DA investigators about Chamberlain's death. He was also named in the lawsuit filed by Chamberlain's family that resulted in a six-figure settlement. Five days after the crime, prosecutors formally charged Petrovich, Teague, Aguilar, Carlstrom, Miller and Garten with murder.
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Petrovich's parents had only learned he'd been arrested again when he failed to show up for his older brother's wedding. "He never showed up, and we could never figure out why, and we were looking for him and found out he had been apprehended," says Petrovich's father, David.
Ruth Camardi knew her son was being held at Theo Lacy, so when she heard the news that six inmates had been arrested for murder inside the jail, she immediately began to worry. But when she visited him the following Friday, Petrovich assured her he was innocent. "All he said was, 'Mom, believe me, I had nothing to do with it,'" she says. Only later, after Petrovich had been interviewed several times by sheriff's investigators, did he tell his mother about his role in the murder or share his claim that Taylor had instigated the attack by outing Chamberlain to him as a child molester.
David Petrovich says that he didn't find out his son had been charged with murder until "probably about three months after it happened."
He's convinced his son is telling the truth about Taylor, partly based on his own experiences as a prison guard. During his stint with the Marines, David Petrovich worked as a guard at various military brigs. Later, while stationed at Quantico in the 1990s and studying for a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, he worked as a guard at the Lorton federal prison outside Washington, D.C.