Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Verdict Reached in Seneca County Prison Assault Trial

Finger Lakes Daily News:

A Seneca County jury found a former Five Points Prison inmate “not guilty” of felony assault and harassment charges and “guilty” of a misdemeanor charge following a three-day trial in County Court.

According to defense attorney Steven Getman, the defendant, Jesus Torres (age 33), was originally charged with Assault Second Degree and Aggravated Harassment of an Employee by an Inmate, both felonies.

The charges stemmed from an incident at the prison in August 2007. Torres was alleged to have intentionally injured one corrections officer and intentionally spit blood on another, during or following a fight with another inmate.

However, after the close of evidence, both charges were dismissed. Instead, the jury found Torres guilty of the lesser charge, Assault Third Degree.

The defense had asked that the jury consider the reduced charge on the theory that Torres may have acted recklessly, but did not intentionally injure the guard, Getman explained. In addition, the defense argued in court, there was insufficient evidence that Torres had intentionally spit blood on a corrections officer. In particular, Getman criticized the state corrections officials for not authorizing DNA testing that could have helped prove guilt or innocence.

Assistant District Attorney Mark Sinkiewicz had asked the jury to convict the defendant as charged, alleging that the prosecution had proven its case.

After approximately four hours of deliberations, the jury returned its unanimous verdict.
Following the verdict, County Court Judge Dennis Bender set Torres’ sentencing for April.

At sentencing, Torres faces up to one year in jail and a fine. Had he been convicted as charged he could have been sentenced to up to seven additional years in state prison.

After the current charges were filed Torres was transferred out of Five Points and sent to another facility. According to the New York State Department of Corrections website, Torres will be eligible for parole in 2013.