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Judge upholds firing of correctional officer

November 03, 2009

A Washington County Circuit judge has upheld an order that a correctional officer be fired in connection with a March 2008 assault of an inmate.

Judge Donald E. Beachley issued an order Oct. 29 affirming a decision by Administrative Law Judge Louis N. Hurwitz, according to Maryland court records.

Hurwitz ruled Jan. 30 in favor of firing Michael Morgan, one of nine Roxbury Correctional Institution officers charged with second-degree assault in the beating of inmate Kenneth Davis.

Morgan appealed Hurwitz's ruling to Washington County Circuit Court, and an oral argument in the case was heard Sept. 18.

Five of the nine officers -- Morgan, Tyson Hinkle, Dustin Norris, Robert Harvey and Keith Morris -- were acquitted of the criminal charge.

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Timothy Mellott and Lucas Kelly agreed to testify against their former colleagues as part of a plea agreement.

In his 18-page order upholding the decision, Beachley supported Hurwitz's conclusion that Kelly's testimony had been credible when he alleged that Morgan was among the group of officers who committed the assault.

"Kelly unequivocally testified that he, Morgan, and others participated in an assault against the inmate," Beachley wrote in the order.

Kelly had been torn by the "code of silence" standard between RCI officers, which compelled him to lie to investigators shortly after the assault, according to court records.

He recanted his original story in April, admitting his role in the assault, court documents said.

A charge against Reginald Martin was dropped.

A trial for Scott Boozel ended in a hung jury June 16 and a judge declared a mistrial. As of Monday, prosecutors hadn't decided whether to retry Boozel, according to Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office.

-- Andrew Schotz and Bridget DiCosmo

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