Pr. George's Judge Orders Inmate Temporarily Released After Beating in Jail

By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A judge ruled yesterday that a Prince George's County jail inmate who was badly beaten this month after a guard "inadvertently" unlocked his cell door sustained injuries serious enough to warrant temporary release so he can be evaluated by a doctor of his choosing.

Circuit Court Judge Melanie Shaw Geter ordered that DeAndre Wilson, who was convicted of armed robbery, be released on home detention for one week. Shaw Geter said she has a duty to ensure that Wilson receives appropriate treatment. She also noted that the county Corrections Department, which runs the jail, had asked her to allow Wilson to serve the remainder of his 18-month sentence, about half of which he has completed, on home detention.

During a brief court hearing, Wilson's attorney, Thomas C. Mooney, said that since the attack, his client has been dizzy, has had vision problems and cannot concentrate while reading. Wilson was treated at Prince George's Hospital Center but was not admitted.

Wilson, 19, was sleeping in his cell early on the morning of June 6 when he was attacked by another inmate, an alleged member of the Bloods, a violent street gang. A jail guard working in a control booth had inadvertently opened Wilson's cell, allowing the other inmate to enter, said Vernon Herron, the county's public safety director.

Herron said officials have found no link between the jail guard, whom he declined to identify, and the alleged attacker, Jermain "Juice" Williams, 22. The incident is under investigation, Herron said.

The defense has asked that Wilson be granted early release on the grounds that he is at risk. Mooney said during the hearing that Wilson had been attacked twice in the jail before the June 6 incident. Shaw Geter said she would consider the motion next week after Wilson has been medically evaluated.

Assistant State's Attorney Christopher Walsh, who in court papers argued against shortening Wilson's sentence, argued yesterday against releasing him on home detention. He said doing so would send the "wrong message" to inmates, and he said he worried that "we might see a string of similar incidents" if inmates believed they might be released early if they were beaten.

Walsh suggested that Wilson could be escorted to medical appointments outside the jail, and for his safety could also be transferred to another jail, in Charles or St. Mary's counties.

Shaw Geter said she would not make a ruling based on "speculation." Regarding the idea that Wilson could be transferred to another jail, Shaw Geter said, "You can't just come into the courtroom and suggest that. If you'd talked to the detention center and presented that [as an option], we might be in a different place."

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