- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 16, 2009

HAGERSTOWN, Md. | A burly state correctional officer leveled a handcuffed inmate with a punch to the nose during a group beatdown that left the prisoner battered beyond recognition, a prosecutor and a witness said Monday in the first trial stemming from a state Division of Correction brutality probe.

Defendant Scott Boozel, 28, of McConnellsburg, Pa., is “one of the bad apples who floated to the top” during the investigation of repeated assaults on inmate Kenneth Davis, said Jason Abbott, an assistant Maryland attorney general.

Mr. Abbott said Mr. Boozel is so muscular that Davis referred to him as “Brock Lesnar,” the Ultimate Fighting Championship superstar.

“When somebody that size makes contact with you, it leaves an impression,” Mr. Abbott told the jury.

But defense attorney D. Bruce Poole said Davis and inept internal investigators confused Mr. Boozel with another beefy officer known as Brock Lesnar throughout the medium-security Roxbury Correctional Institution. That officer, James Stotler, hasn’t been charged but Mr. Poole said evidence will show that he was in the prison’s infirmary when Davis was assaulted there.

“This is a case showing exceedingly poor investigative work,” Mr. Poole said. “It was not and could not have been Scott Boozel who committed the offenses the attorney general is talking about.”

The state’s first witness, prison security chief Richard E. Miller, testified that Davis was so badly injured when he saw him on the morning of March 9, that “had I not known inmate Davis, I would not have known who I was interviewing.”

Mr. Boozel is among nine fired Roxbury officers charged in February with second-degree assault stemming from a series of purported beatings on March 8 and 9, 2008. The offense carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Before jury selection began Monday, the state dropped charges against another fired officer, Reginald Martin, 38, of Chambersburg, Pa.

Mr. Abbott declined to explain why.

According to administrative appeal records in the case of another fired officer, Davis told investigators that all his assailants were white. Mr. Martin is black.

Mr. Martin’s lawyer, Alan L. Winik, said the accusation had been “a nightmare” for his client.

“Where does Mr. Martin go now to get his reputation back? He intends to pursue every avenue to do just that,” Mr. Winik said.

Mr. Boozel is the first of the fired officers to stand trial. Two former officers, Lucas Kelly of Frostburg, Md., and Timothy Mellott of Woodbridge, Va., have pleaded guilty.

Separately, six officers fired from the North Branch Correctional Institution near Cumberland have pleaded not guilty to charges that they assaulted six inmates there on March 6, 2008. Their trials are set to begin in July.

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