- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 27, 2009

HAGERSTOWN, Md. | Two fired Maryland correctional officers pleaded guilty Tuesday to assaulting a defenseless inmate at a state prison and agreed to testify against seven co-workers charged with beating the man over a two-day period.

Timothy Mellott, 23, of Woodbridge, Va., and Lucas Kelly, 29, of Frostburg, Md., each pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree assault, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine. No sentencing dates were set. The other seven officers have pleaded not guilty.

The two acknowledged brutalizing Kenneth J. Davis, 42, who is serving 19 years for a series of robbery convictions in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties in 1998. Davis is housed at the Eastern Correctional Institution near Westover, according to the Division of Correction.

Assistant Attorney General Jason Abbott, who is prosecuting the case, told Washington County Circuit Judge M. Kenneth Long that the episode began March 8, 2008, when Davis hit Mellott in the face during an apparently routine check during the night shift at the medium-security Roxbury Correctional Institution near Hagerstown.

Two other officers broke up the fight, handcuffed Davis behind his back and escorted him to the Administrative Segregation Intake Area, or ASIA unit, a holding area inside the medical dispensary where troublesome inmates are sometimes housed.

Davis was cooperative during the trip to the ASIA unit, Mr. Abbott said.

The party was met in the ASIA unit by Lt. Robert D. Harvey, 62, of Hagerstown and Correctional Officer Keith Morris, 27, of Warfordsburg, Pa., who were told of the attack on Mellott, Mr. Abbott said. He said Lt. Harvey led Davis to a cell and kicked him in the midsection, knocking him to the ground.

Officer Morris then entered the cell and punched Davis, followed by Mellott, who punched the inmate and kicked him in the back, Mr. Abbott said.

Davis remained handcuffed and did not attempt to hit or kick the officers during the beating, he said.

Lt. Harvey, Mellott and Officer Morris are among four defendants from the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift. The role of the fourth man, Scott Boozel, 28, of McConnellsburg, Pa., wasn’t explained.

Kelly is among five other officers charged with assaulting Davis the next day during the 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift. Mr. Abbott said four of those officers - Kelly; Reginald Martin, 38, of Chambersburg, Pa.; Michael Morgan, 39, of Fort Ashby, W.Va.; and Justin Norris, 24, of Martinsburg, W.Va. - learned of the attack on Mellott during morning roll.

“There was an implicit agreement among the defendants to go to the ASIA unit to find Kenneth Davis,” Mr. Abbott said.

He said they got in a van, drove to the medical dispensary, entered through a physical therapy door and met Officer Tyson T. Hinkle, 33, of Martinsburg, W.Va. Officer Hinkle accompanied them to Davis’ cell, where they found the inmate on the floor, Mr. Abbott said.

Once again, Davis did not threaten the officers or try to hit them, Mr. Abbott said. He said they kicked Davis numerous times in the body and genitals while he tried to protect himself by curling into a ball.

Mr. Abbott said Kelly, when questioned by investigators, initially denied any knowledge of the beating. But he later admitted his involvement and provided the names of the assailants.

Kelly, who represented himself, declined to comment after the hearing.

Mellott and his attorney, assistant public defender Charles Bailey, also declined to comment.

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