Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Second BOP Guard Convicted in Connection with Prisoner’s Murder

A second federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) guard who helped arrange an assault on a prisoner that resulted in the prisoner’s death has been convicted of federal civil rights violations.

On July 8, 2010, Michael Kennedy was found guilty of violating the civil rights of Richard Delano, a former prisoner at the U.S. Penitentiary I in Coleman, Florida. Delano was killed in 2005 after his cellmate, John Javilo “Animal” McCullah, attacked him in exchange for a pack of cigarettes provided by Kennedy.

Kennedy helped arrange the assault after one of his BOP coworkers, Erin Sharma, was injured a month earlier by Delano. Delano had allegedly grabbed Sharma’s arm through the food trap in his cell door, leaving her with bruises.

As payback, Sharma and Kennedy conspired to have Delano assaulted; for example, they lied to the shift lieutenant in order to have him moved into a cell with McCullah.
McCullah, who was serving a life sentence, beat Delano into a coma in exchange for the pack of smokes and because Delano had a reputation as a snitch. Delano died 13 days later and McCullah was transferred to the BOP’s supermax facility in Florence, Colorado.

Sharma was convicted in July 2009 of violating Delano’s civil rights, and sentenced to life in prison. [See: PLN, Jan. 2010, p.30]. She appealed her conviction and sentence, which were affirmed by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in an August 24, 2010 ruling that found her actions were “the proximate cause of Delano’s death.” See: United States v. Sharma, 394 Fed.Appx. 591 (11th Cir. 2010), cert. denied.

Kennedy, convicted of conspiracy against rights and deprivation of rights under color of law, was sentenced on December 16, 2010 to 108 months in federal prison plus two years on supervised release and 50 hours of community service. See: United States v. Kennedy, U.S.D.C. (M.D. Fla.), Case No. 6:09-cr-00217-ACC-DAB.

Kennedy appealed the district court’s application of a vulnerable victim enhancement used to increase his sentence, which was affirmed by the Eleventh Circuit on September 23, 2011. “[I]nmates can be vulnerable victims ... by virtue of being confined in a cell with another inmate, and therefore unable to escape his assault,” the appellate court wrote. See: United States v. Kennedy, 441 Fed.Appx. 647 (11th Cir. 2011).

Sources:,, Department of Justice press release

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal cases

United States v. Kennedy

United States v. Sharma

United States v. Kennedy