- Posted March 16, 2012 by
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Kelly Thomas Murder Trial Update
SANTA ANA – The preliminary hearing for two Fullerton police officers charged with felonies in the July 5 beating death of Kelly Thomas, a 37-year-old homeless man, was pushed back Friday to May 7.
Superior Court Judge Erick Larsh agreed to the continuance at the request of defense attorney John Barnett, who represents Officer Manuel Ramos. Barnett will be engaged in trial on another case March 28, when the hearing was originally scheduled.
Ramos, who is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, and Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive force under color of authority, will remain out of custody on bail pending the preliminary hearing.
Both defendants have pleaded not guilty.
Thomas died from suffocation after he was beaten by six officers when he was confronted outside the Fullerton Transportation Center last summer after police received a report that someone was breaking into cars.
The 30-minute skirmish was witnessed by several people and captured on surveillance video. Only Ramos and Cicinelli are charged in the incident.
Ramos, 37, who is free on $1 million bail, is the first officer in Orange County history to be charged with murder for an incident that occurred while on duty and in police uniform.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas contends Ramos triggered the deadly exchange when he snapped on a pair of latex gloves, leaned over Thomas in menacing manner and made two fists before telling the homeless man, "Now, see my fists? ... They are getting ready to f--- you up."
Rackauckas contends that Cicinelli, 39, who is free on $25,000 bail, fired his stun gun four times into Thomas and then smashed him in the face eight times with it after Thomas became nonresponsive.
Barnett has said his client's actions were "reasonable and appropriate under the circumstances, not to mention that he was not the cause of death."
Ramos faces a potential sentence of 15 years to life if convicted of second-degree murder. A jury could also find him guilty of the lesser crime of involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of four years. Cicinelli faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison if convicted.
From the Orange County Register