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Four Roxbury correctional officers slated to go on trial Monday

June 14, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- Four of nine former Roxbury Correctional Institution officers charged with beating an inmate are expected to be in Washington County Circuit Court Monday for trial.

Two others pleaded guilty May 26 to second-degree assault in the beating of inmate Kenneth J. Davis at the prison south of Hagerstown.

Timothy Mellott, 23, of Woodbridge, Va., and Lucas Kelly, 29, of Frostburg, Md., agreed to testify against their former colleagues as part of a plea agreement.

Scott Boozel, 28 of McConnellsburg, Pa.; Reginald Martin, 38 of Chambersburg, Pa.; Dustin Norris, 24, of Martinsburg, W.Va.; and Tyson Hinkle, 34, of Martinsburg, each face a single charge of second-degree assault, and are expected to be in court today.

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Conviction on a charge of second-degree assault, which is a misdemeanor, is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

The remaining three officers were set to be tried Monday, but their cases have been postponed. Each of them also faces a single charge of second-degree assault.

The case of Michael Morgan, 39, of Fort Ashby, W.Va., was postponed because of unexplained family circumstances.

Keith Morris, 27, of Warfordsburg, Pa., and Robert Harvey, 63, of Hagerstown, were granted continuances in a written order dated June 4. Their defense attorneys argued that, because of the enormous amount of material provided by the state Attorney General's office, they needed more time to prepare for trial.

Harvey is being represented by Scott Rolle, an attorney from Frederick, Md.

Morris' attorney, Ed Button, wrote in court documents that he expected his client's trial to take three to five days.

Button also wrote that, because of the large amount of material and evidence provided by the state, he hired co-counsel, Hagerstown attorney Wiley Rutledge. Button's motion for continuance also stated that he wanted time to examine the Division of Correction facilities in which the incidents were alleged to have happened.

The charges have their roots in a March 8, 2008, incident in which Mellott went to check on Davis in his cell and Davis struck Mellott in the face, the prosecutor said during Mellott's plea hearing in May.

Maryland Assistant Attorney General Jason Abbott, who is prosecuting the case, has alleged that Boozel, Harvey, Mellott and Keith Morris then beat Davis during the 3 p.m.-to-11 p.m. shift March 8.

On the morning of March 9, Hinkle, Kelly, Martin, Morgan and Norris are alleged to have beaten Davis again.

Kelly admitted his involvement after discussing the situation involving Davis with his father-in-law, John Rowley, who at the time was a warden at North Branch Correctional Institution near Cumberland, Md., according to court records. Rowley encouraged Kelly to come forward and called a Maryland State Police investigator, records show.

Mellott and Kelly have been allowed to remain free on personal recognizance since pleading guilty. They will be sentenced after the remaining cases are adjudicated.

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