Miguel Guillen, Chamberlain Murder Trial Defendant, Sentenced to 20 Years to Life

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OC Register pool photograph
Miguel Guillen shortly before being convicted of murder
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.

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.

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Have any of the prison guards been convicted yet?  Oh wait, this is OC.

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