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Inmate enters plea in Roxbury slaying

June 08, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- One of three inmates facing first-degree murder charges in connection with the April 26, 2008, death of a fellow prisoner pleaded guilty Monday morning to a lesser charge and will serve an additional 15 years in prison.

The victim was never able to identify his attackers, and his body was exhumed last summer as part of the investigation.

James Clayton Proctor, 21, entered his plea to conspiracy to commit robbery and was sentenced Monday morning at the bench before Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell, court records show. The proceedings took place out of earshot of those seated in the courtroom.

Proctor's hearing took place at the bench for the safety of the defendant, Assistant State's Attorney Gina Cirincion said Monday after the hearing.

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Prosecutors alleged in indictments filed against Proctor and two others 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 the victim.

A co-defendant, Robert Franklin Steingold, 51, entered into a similar plea deal in April, also pleading guilty Monday to conspiring to commit robbery. He also was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Armando Vidal Fernandez, 48, was found unconscious Feb. 22, 2008, on a walkway at Roxbury Correctional Institution south of Hagerstown, court records show.

Fernandez was assaulted from behind that morning while walking outside in the prison yard among a group of inmates, according to court records. The assault caused Fernandez to fall and strike his head on the concrete sidewalk, court records show. He suffered a serious head injury and died about two months later.

After his body was exhumed, the medical examiner ruled that Fernandez's cause of death was blunt-force trauma, and the manner of death was homicide

Steingold, Proctor, and a third man, Chad Anthony Cirigliano, 29, were all charged in November 2008, with 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.

Prosecutors dropped all the other charges in return for the pleas from Steingold and Proctor.

Cirigliano is scheduled to appear in court for a three-day jury trial beginning June 29, court records show.

Proctor is already 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.

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