Inmates get day in court

New details emerge in guard's killing

July 29, 2006|By STEPHANIE DESMON | STEPHANIE DESMON,SUN REPORTER

Three days after the stabbing death of a correctional officer inside a state prison in Jessup, the two inmates accused in the killing appeared in Anne Arundel County District Court yesterday under heavy guard as a judge ordered them held without bond.

Shackled at the feet, waist and wrists, with their hands encased in black glove-like material, Lamarr C. Harris, 35, and Lee E. Stephens, 27, looked unconcerned and said little as they faced Judge Megan B. Johnson, who read the charges against them in connection with the death of 42-year-old correction officer David McGuinn. Each man is charged with first- and second-degree murder and could face the death penalty.

McGuinn was stabbed in the neck Tuesday night by inmates apparently armed with homemade knives, after they jammed old locks to their cell doors and attacked the two-year veteran of the department, investigators said.

Additional information contained in court documents show the officer called for assistance on his radio that night and by the time help arrived, McGuinn was found "staggering down the steps with his face and head covered with blood."

Other officers stationed inside the maximum-security Maryland House of Correction in Jessup did a cursory search and spotted Harris washing what were believed to be bloody clothes and sheets in his cell sink, court papers say. The officers also found a bloody T-shirt and bloody boots under Stephens' bed, the documents say.

According to the statement, the officers also noticed a laceration on the knuckle of Harris' right ring finger.

A witness, unidentified in the court papers, told officers he watched as McGuinn was being stabbed, identifying Harris as the assailant.

"The victim was bent forward at the waist with his hands shielding his face. The defendant was raising his arm up and down in a stabbing motion. The witness saw the defendant strike the victim at least three times. The witness heard the victim cry in pain each time he was being stabbed," the papers continue.

McGuinn is the second Maryland correctional officer killed this year, a year in which the troubled prison system has been racked with violence. In January, Jeffery A. Wroten, a correctional officer at the Roxbury Correctional Institution, was killed with his own gun, allegedly by an inmate he was guarding at a Hagerstown hospital.

The Jessup prison was under lockdown at the time of the most recent killing, with prisoners confined mostly to their cells because of rumors that inmates were planning to attack an officer.

Harris is already serving three consecutive life sentences, plus time for a weapons violation, for participating in an execution-style murder of two people in a South Baltimore park in August 1989. In his time behind bars, Harris has been convicted of at least two more violent crimes, including assaulting a correctional officer, which added a year to his sentence.

Stephens is serving a life sentence plus 15 years. He was convicted in the April 1997 killing of DeWayne Holbrook outside a nightclub in Salisbury.

Officials initially believed there were three inmates involved in the stabbing of McGuinn, but further investigation showed there were just two assailants, said Greg Shipley, a spokesman for Maryland State Police, which is handling the case. He said there were no new details to release yesterday about the investigation, which is continuing.

William M. Davis, an attorney with the Anne Arundel County public defender's office, said he tried to meet with the suspects Thursday but couldn't get in to see them.

Davis stood at their sides as each man was brought into court individually in orange jumpsuits bearing the acronym MCAC for Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center, the prison known as Supermax where they are now held.

Officers stood close to each suspect throughout the hearing, with one officer holding onto the waist chain of each man throughout the brief proceedings.

Funeral arrangements for McGuinn were announced yesterday. A viewing will take place on Wednesday at the Atlantic City, N.J., Convention Center from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a funeral service Thursday at 10 a.m. He will be buried at Atlantic City Cemetery.

The Division of Correction plans to provide a bus for officers who want to attend the funeral, said spokesman George Gregory, but final details won't be released until Monday.

stephanie.desmon@baltsun.com

Sun staff writers Andrea F. Siegel and Greg Garland contributed to this article.

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