Jail Guards Plead Not Guilty

Two Custody Deputies Accused of Assault to Stand Trial

Custody deputies Christopher Johnson (left) and Robert Kirsch are arraigned in Santa Barbara Superior Court on assault charges
Paul Wellman

A preliminary hearing date was set for two custody deputies who pleaded not guilty today to assault charges. Robert Kirsch, 30, and Christopher Johnson, 28, are accused of assault by public officers in the alleged beating of an inmate awaiting trial for murder and sex crimes.

Bill Hadden, Kirsch’s attorney, told The Santa Barbara Independent, “It’s our contention that both deputies did nothing wrong,” and he said he looks forward to disproving the charges in court.

The alleged assault of Charles Alonzo Owens took place on June 17. He was given medical attention immediately, then was taken to a hospital for further examination eight days later after complaining of upper torso pain.

The public defender’s office filed a complaint with the Sheriff’s Office on June 18, triggering a two-month investigation after which the Sheriff turned over his findings to the District Attorney. Kirsch and Johnson’s next appearance in court will be October 8 in Department 12.


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