John Chamberlain Murder Trial Day Three: Deputy Taylor's Partner Speaks

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for kevin-taylor.jpg
Ex-Deputy Kevin Taylor
You could tell that Orange County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Chapluk was nervous. Okay, maybe not as nervous as he was on that security footage from the night of Oct. 5, 2006 when he and fellow Theo Lacy Jail guard Kevin Taylor were bouncing around the guard tower inside F-West barracks, trying to figure out how they were going to explain that dozens of inmates had just brutally murdered an inmate suspected of being a child molester--an attack that lasted up to 40 minutes and took place less than 100 feet away and within their direct view.

But still you could tell he was nervous as he sat in the witness chair today in the ninth floor courtroom of Orange County Superior Court Judge James Stotler. Dressed in his dark green deputy's uniform, Chapluk cast repeated furtive glances at the jury as prosecutors and defense attorneys grilled him about the events of that day for several hours. It seemed likely that prosecutors had suggested he maintain eye contact with the jury, but unfortunately, depending on your point of view, the tactic suggested a strange mixture of discomfort and yearning for approval rather than honesty or self-confidence.

It's easy to imagine why Chapluk would be all-a-flutter heart-wise nowadays. As it has played out so far at least, the entire crux of the prosecution's case against the five inmates--three white and two Latino--being tried for this mass killing--seems to rest on whether jurors will believe Chapluk's claim that neither he nor Taylor had anything to do with revealing to the inmates the fact that Chamberlain was awaiting trial for being in possession of child pornography, thus setting in motion the horrific assault.

The basic timeline of the murder isn't in question, either. On the day he died, Chamberlain's public defender, acting on information provided to him by his client's then-girlfriend, called the jail to say that Chamberlain was in fear for his life and wanted to be immediately moved from the F-West barracks, a minimum-security housing dormitory at Theo Lacy reserved for non-violent offenders. The call, as various employees at the jail testified today, was promptly sent from Theo Lacy's main control out to F-West.

From there, one of two things happened, depending on whom you believe. The prosecution's story: Deputies Chapluk and Taylor confronted Taylor about the phone call and Chamberlain assured them that he wasn't afraid for his safety, or at least wouldn't be until his next court date, and then, in a remarkable turn of bad luck, was brutally murdered a few hours later. The defense theory, which has been reported extensively in this paper via direct interviews with two of the defendants, as well as several other inmates present that day, is that the two deputies engaged in a conversation about Chamberlain's status as a child molester in front of defendant Jared Petrovich, the shot-caller of the Woods, or white inmates.

Taylor, who was fired by the Sheriff's Department, invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify to the 2007 Orange County Grand Jury, which probed both the murder and the fact that deputies inside the jail routinely used the inmate gang structure to enforce order behind bars with beatings that were rewarded with extra sack lunches and other privileges. Taylor also refused to testify in the current criminal trial. Before testifying at the grand jury, Chapluk received immunity, and while he did answer many questions, he also repeatedly invoked his right not to incriminate himself, including when asked by prosecutor Keith Borgardus whether he was willing to be honest about everything he knew about Chamberlain's murder.

Now, Chapluk seems to be more confident that he won't be held accountable for anything pertaining to Chamberlain's murder. In fact, he testified today, his worst fear is being charged with perjury, a response prompted by prosecutor Ebrahim Baytieh, who wanted jurors to thus believe every word Chapluk said.

"At any moment in time on that day, October 5, 2006, did you assist anybody telling  anybody inside F-West that John Chamberlain was a child molester?" Baytieh asked, his voice booming.

"No," Chapluk responded, his otherwise mostly downcast eyes now darting expectantly toward the jurors.

"Were you present when Taylor did this?" Baytieh continued.

"No."

"On that day did you ever . . . engage in a conversation with Taylor so that inmates would know that Chamberlain was a child molester?" demanded Baytieh.

"No."

"Did you lie to this jury about anything you said today?" Baytieh concluded, his voice dialed up even louder now.

"No, I didn't."

At the conclusion of the trial's third day of proceedings, defense attorneys were still in their early stages of picking apart Chapluk's story, so it's likely he'll be on the stand for at least the next day or so. But he's already delivered what will likely be the most unintentionally ironic line of the entire trial, although it did seem to go over the heads of most people in the courtroom.

Asked by Baytieh about his and Taylor's conversation with Chamberlain just hours before his murder, Chapluk explained that, at some point during their chat, Taylor suggested that Chamberlain come up with a good cover story in case any curious inmates asked the soon-to-be-deceased prisoner why the two guards had just summoned him via the barracks loudspeaker.

"Taylor," Chapluk told jurors, "suggested that he tell them we informed him of a death in his family."

My Voice Nation Help
13 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Max Brash
Max Brash

A good part of the reason this happened, after the personal responsibility of the murderers and the guards who facilitated the murder, is the very often unhearing, unthinking,and disingenuous hysteria about sex offenders in our society that promotes nothing but blind hate.

Yeah right!
Yeah right!

He also testified that chamberlain said he was o.k., but then we see taylor in a video, telling him to backdate the log to reflect that.

Jojosfinds
Jojosfinds

So if you are a child molester...we should care if you get beat up and killed????

Max Brash
Max Brash

Do you take pride in being ignorant AND predictably, and probably disingenuously, outraged and hysterical? I won't wait for the answer. I haven't got time to wait for you to figure out what I mean.

Erikajolieochoa
Erikajolieochoa

What he had on him was wrong but no one has the right to take another person's life regardless of what they did that is why we have a justice system. How would you like if you went in for something similar and they said u went in for a different reason and the inmates decide to take justice into their own hand and do what they did to him to you? I'm pretty sure you. Won't like it like I said no one deserve to die the way he did.

Max Brash
Max Brash

I'm not sure why you are replying to me... I agree. Was your reply meant for Jojosfind?

get the facts
get the facts

He wasn't a child molester. He was in jail on misdemeanor charges for possession of child porn. Some have said the photos may have not even fit the legal definition of child porn.

annomouse
annomouse

It's called the RULE OF LAW, asshole. People who advocate for vigilanteism never seem to get it, that they are just as bad as the people they want to "take out".

Reqz
Reqz

Having been through the O.C. Jail system on several occasions and having been a shot-caller myself, I can tell everybody reading this that those sheriffs obsolutely knew about, if not ordered, the beating of Chamberlain.  When a sheriff tells you directly, or indirectly to do somethjing, you do it.  Even one sheriff against you can make your life that much more hellish than it already is.  Make know mistake, with very few exceptions, the sheriffs almost ALWAYS know whats going on.  Especially at Lacy.

Poul Everard
Poul Everard

Yeah I was in Theo Lacy a couple years before this murder occurred and heard deputies calling guys 'chesters' in front of other inmates...there's no way these deputies are innocent...

Max Brash
Max Brash

I think the deputies could have set this in motion, but given the disingenuous hysteria about "chesters" among inmates, it is not believable that they did this against their will just because a deputy told them to do it. They wanted to do it. If they didn't, they wouldn't have gone on so long beating and sexually assaulting him with such zeal. A forced beating would have been shorter and milder. That is clear. "Shot-callers" are a part of the problem. Guards pets, usually looking to please the guards for petty favors while adhering to their wacko white-supremacist ideology.

949Girl
949Girl

I completely agree with your recap.  He did seem nervous.  The jurors are going to wonder why Kevin Taylor isn't testifying and I think it will all make sense to them, even if it can't be known he's taking the 5th.  Waves and waves of inmates attacked Chamberlain over 40 minutes and these five are standing trial, aside from the few who already took pleas.  There is no way to know who killed him, but it is clear that the deputies had a hand in it and it was clear that Chapluk was lying and nervous.  Definitely think this will either be a mistrial or manslaughter at the worst.

Question of the Day
Question of the Day

Well, it seems the question of the day would be: Why in the hell is Jason Chapluk still employed by the OCSD?

"Dressed in his dark green deputies uniform???" WTF?? 

I guess the rumor, that most of deputies involved in the incident were able to get their jobs back, must be true.  

Now Trending

Anaheim Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Fashion

General

Loading...