Mistrial declared in case against ex-RCI officer

Jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of a not-guilty verdict

Jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of a not-guilty verdict

June 16, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- Only one juror held out for a guilty verdict Tuesday in the case against a former correctional officer accused of beating an inmate.

After about two hours of deliberation, the jury's foreman sent a note to the judge. The note said the jury was deadlocked 11-1 in favor of a not-guilty verdict but could not make a unanimous decision.

Washington County Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley declared a mistrial in the case of Scott Boozel, 28, of McConnellsburg, Pa.

Boozel, along with other officers accused of beating inmate Kenneth Davis in March 2008, was fired from his job at the state prison south of Hagerstown. On Tuesday, his attorney told The Herald-Mail that in a June 4 decision, an administrative law judge reversed the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services decision to fire Boozel from his job at RCI. The state has 30 days to appeal the administrative law judge's decision.


Boozel, however, is ready to go back to work, he said.

"Two wins for me," Boozel said Tuesday evening after the mistrial was declared and after his attorney discussed the reversal of the termination.

Boozel's defense attorney, D. Bruce Poole, is familiar with the Office of Administrative Hearings decision. Poole said the administrative law judge in that decision found that Davis, the victim, was not credible. The administrative law judge discounted Davis' version of events, and went on at length about the inmate's credibility, Poole said.

Assistant Attorney General Jason Abbott, who is prosecuting the case, declined Tuesday evening to say whether the state would retry the case against Boozel.

Boozel is one of nine former Roxbury officers who was charged with second-degree assault in February. Prosecutors allege that Davis was beaten four times over three shifts at the prison beginning March 8, 2008.

Two of the officers pleaded guilty in May and agreed to testify against their former colleagues. One of them took the stand Monday to testify against Boozel.

The charges have their roots in a March 8, 2008, incident in which Timothy Mellott, 23, one of the officers who pleaded guilty, went to check on Davis in his cell and Davis struck Mellott in the face. Davis was then taken to a holding cell in the Administrative Segregation Intake Area, known as ASIA, where prosecutors allege the attacks happened. That area is also near the prison's medical dispensary.

The state on Tuesday called to the stand three correctional officers, including one the defense attempted to suggest might be the actual assailant.

Davis on Monday testified that he was sure it was Boozel, whom the inmate nicknamed Brock Lesnar after an Ultimate Fighter, who punched him in the face and broke his nose the afternoon of March 8, 2008.

Sgt. James Stotler, of a similar height and weight as Boozel, testified Tuesday for the state. He was also in the area of the dispensary around the time of the alleged assault, Stotler testified. He knew Mellott, and stopped in to make sure Mellott was OK, Stotler said.

Stotler testified that he didn't see Boozel in that area while he was there and he didn't witness anything unusual, such as an attack.

Stotler also testified that he is known as Brock to many officers and inmates at the prison.

The defense called seven witnesses during its case Tuesday, including several officers who were in the area of the dispensary around the time of the alleged attack. Poole's questions to those officers seemed to be an effort to poke holes in the state's time frame of events.

He tried to show that Boozel was not in the dispensary area at the same time as other officers allegedly involved in the assault, which Davis testified Monday was at least one minute long but probably more like two or three minutes. Officers also testified that they knew Boozel to be "truthful."

Boozel also took the stand. He testified that he started as a correctional officer in May 2006, held weapons certifications and worked as a member of the prison tactical and contraband units. As of March 2008, he had also qualified to be a member of the Division of Correctional special operations unit, which transports dangerous inmates, he said.

He was "never" referred to as Brock, Boozel said. On the day of the alleged assault, he went to the dispensary area because his sergeant had gone there after the assault on Mellott was reported. He and his sergeant were retrieving an inmate from Baltimore that afternoon, and had to meet up and leave, Boozel testified.

He was in the dispensary area three or four minutes, and nothing seemed to indicate that Davis had just been assaulted, Boozel testified. Boozel said he never went into Davis' cell.

During his closing arguments, Poole repeatedly called Davis a serpent, a metaphor for deceipt, he said. Poole said Davis' story changed each time he told it.

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