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15 Guards Charged with Assaulting Maryland Prisoners

by David M. Reutter

The Maryland Attorney General’s Office has charged 15 former prison guards with assaulting prisoners. The charges come nearly a year after the guards were fired from the North Branch Correctional Institution and Roxbury Correctional Institution; another eight guards were not charged due to lack of evidence. [See: PLN, July 2008, p.38].

Nine former Roxbury guards were charged with second-degree assault: Robert D. Harvey, 62; Reginald Martin, 38; Scott Boozel, 28; Michael Morgan, 39; Tim Mellott, 28; Justin Norris, 24; Keith Morris, 26; Tyson Hinkle, 33; and Lucas A. Kelly, 29.

In addition to assault, the six North Branch guards were charged with conspiracy to assault. They include Jason Weaver, 35; Kenneth Platter, 26; Richard Robinson, 36; Tony Nery, 42; Sherman Jones, 39; and Ryan Dolan, 28.

If found guilty, the guards each face up to 10 years and a $2,500 fine. Their union, however, is confident of acquittals. “We feel that at the conclusion of this that the officers are going to walk away from this cleared of the charges,” said Patrick Moran, director of AFSCME Maryland. “We’re going to work through it and at the end people will be vindicated.”

The charges stem from the March 8, 2008 beating of prisoner Kenneth J. Davis, who had allegedly assaulted Mellott. As a result of four beatings by guards at North Branch, Davis was hospitalized; the attack left him “unrecognizable” according to court documents.
Prison officials fired 25 guards for using excessive force on Davis and a group of other prisoners who were transferred from Roxbury to North Branch after fighting with guards on March 6, 2008. Three guards were later reinstated.

Despite Moran’s confidence that the former guards would be acquitted at trial, some apparently were not so sure. On May 26, 2009, Mellott and Kelly pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree assault. Both had agreed to cooperate with investigators; their sentencing hearings have not yet been scheduled.

Prosecutors dropped charges against Reginald Martin in June 2009, and the charge against Scott Boozel resulted in a hung jury on June 16. The remaining former guards have yet to go to trial. Two have regained their jobs after winning hearings before administrative law judges.

“If I had to do it over again, I would do the same thing,” stated Gary Maynard, Secretary of the Maryland Dept. of Public Safety and Correctional Services, in reference to the firings.

Sources: Associated Press, The Herald-Mail

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