Miguel Guillen, the 48-year-old former Theo Lacy Jail inmate convicted in October of the 2006 murder of fellow prisoner John Chamberlain, a Rancho Santa Margarita software engineer suspected of being a child molester, has been sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. Along with five other defendants, Guillen was found guilty of second-degree murder on Oct. 25 by a jury that deliberated for weeks following what was a grueling trial.
Guillen, an illegal immigrant who was charged with the murder after he confessed to participating in the mass killing, a horrific assault that involved dozens of inmates who punched, stomped and kicked Chamberlain to death in a low-security housing dormitory while guards allegedly watched television in a nearby guard tower. The victim was awaiting trial for misdemeanor possession of child pornography.
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Judge James A. Stotler handed down the sentence on Dec. 2. Although testimony at trial (as well as Guillen's own confession) suggested he had only slapped Chamberlain with his shoes a few times, prosecutors asked for a five-year enhancement added to the 15 years he'd normally receive, given his prior felony convictions for assault with a deadly weapon.
"Guillen was one of the leaders of a group of inmates who decided to substitute their sick and twisted sense of right and wrong for our society's right to fairly and justly try those accused of a crime in a court of law," prosecutors argued. "Guillen did not afford his victim the rights that Guillen so richly enjoyed every time he was accused of a a crime during his long and active criminal history. The defendant decided that it was acceptable for him and his co-defenants to act as the jurors, the judges and the executioners."
Guillen's fellow defendants--Jared Petrovich, Stephen Carlstrom, Garret Aguilar and Raul Villafana--face similar sentences of 15 years to life in prison at a Jan. 27 hearing.
You can read additional coverage of the murder and the trial that followed in this blog's John Chamberlain Murder Trial archive.