Coverage of the trial involving two ex-police officers charged in the death of a homeless man

Fullerton Police Officers Plead Not Guilty in Kelly Thomas Beating

Two Fullerton officers face charges in connection with last summer's beating death of Kelly Thomas

By Jason Kandel and Vikki Vargas
|  Monday, Sep 17, 2012  |  Updated 10:13 AM PDT
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Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli -- Fullerton police officers accused in the beating death of Kelly Thomas -- pleaded not guilty Friday, July 13. A graphic video tape of Kelly Thomas being beaten and more than ten minutes of audio are expected to be central pieces of evidence when the case goes to trial. Vikki Vargas reports from Santa Ana for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on July 13, 2012.

Vikki Vargas

Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli -- Fullerton police officers accused in the beating death of Kelly Thomas -- pleaded not guilty Friday, July 13. A graphic video tape of Kelly Thomas being beaten and more than ten minutes of audio are expected to be central pieces of evidence when the case goes to trial. Vikki Vargas reports from Santa Ana for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on July 13, 2012.

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Fullerton Officers Fighting for Careers, Freedom

The two officers charged in the Kelly Thomas beating case will have to fight for their careers, and their freedom. A high profile defense attorney is already on board.

Kelly Thomas Case

Two Fullerton Police officers charged in the death of Kelly Thomas.
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Two Fullerton police officers have pleaded not guilty to charges in connection with last summer’s beating death of Kelly Thomas.

As expected, Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli entered their pleas on Friday in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana. The arraignment hearing last about 1 minute.

Their next court date is scheduled for July 27. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said he predicts a two-month trial.  One central piece of evidence for the prosecution will be a  video tape of the beating.

"I don't see how you can watch it without having a very strong human, emotional reaction," Rackauckas said.

Kelly Thomas Case: Timeline, Photos

The Fullerton Police Department announced this week that Ramos no longer works at the Fullerton Police Department. Cicinelli remains on unpaid leave.

Ramos, a 10-year veteran of the force, was charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Thomas, a 37-year-old schizophrenic man who died days after being beaten by six police officers last summer.

Four other officers are on paid administrative leave. Cicinelli was charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force in connection with the beating.

If convicted on the murder charge, Ramos faces 15 years to life in prison. Both officers face up to four years in prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Defense attorneys plan to file a motion claiming there is insufficient evidence for trial.

They say recently released audio of an interaction between Ramos and a homeless man named "Dave" proves that Ramos had a good relationship with homeless people.

Rackauckas said the defense's motions are "routine" in criminal cases, and that his office usual wins when judges make decisions on such motions.

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