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Inmates charged in prisoner's slaying

December 23, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- Three prison inmates face first-degree murder charges in connection with the April 26 death of a fellow prisoner whose body was exhumed this summer as part of the investigation.

Robert Franklin Steingold, 51, James Clayton Proctor, 20, and Chad Anthony Cirigliano, 29, each face charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, robbery, theft under $500, conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and conspiracy to commit theft under $500.

The victim in the case, Armando Vidal Fernandez, 48, was found unconscious on a walkway at Roxbury Correctional Institution south of Hagerstown Feb. 22, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services spokesman Mark Vernarelli said.

The investigation revealed that on the morning of Feb. 22, Fernandez had been assaulted from behind while walking outside in the prison yard among a group of inmates. The assault caused Fernandez to fall and strike his head on the concrete sidewalk. 

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The inmate had suffered a serious head injury, Vernarelli said.

Fernandez was taken to Washington County Hospital, and later was cared for in a nursing home. Eventually, Fernandez was paroled by the Maryland Parole Commission for medical reasons at the request of the Division of Correction. He died April 26 at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, Vernarelli said. Fernandez was buried in Prince George's County on May 1.

Fernandez never was able to identify his attackers, Vernarelli said.

Maryland State Police started investigating May 19, the same day the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services' Internal Investigation Unit notified police that an inmate who had been assaulted earlier in the year had died, a state police spokesman said.

An autopsy was performed July 15, the same day Fernandez's body was exhumed, Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley said. The medical examiner ruled that Fernandez's cause of death was blunt force trauma, and the manner of death was homicide, Shipley said.

Investigators still were unsure about what type of object caused the blunt force trauma, Shipley said Monday night.

Charges against the three inmates in connection with Fernandez's death were handed up by a grand jury and filed in Washington County Circuit Court Nov. 10, court records show. The men were served the warrants in prison this month, and the indictments later were unsealed.

Steingold on Monday was being held at the Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Md., Proctor still was being held at Roxbury, and Cirigliano was being held at the Maryland Correctional Training Center south of Hagerstown.

Proctor is serving an 11-year sentence for a burglary conviction, Steingold a 56-year sentence for a homicide and Cirigliano a 10-year sentence for robbery and burglary convictions, Vernarelli said.

The robbery and theft counts in the indictment allege that the three men took a radio/CD player, Nintendo Game Boy system, CDs, Game Boy accessories, sneakers, commissary tickets and a pair of headphones from Fernandez.

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