Filing: As guard lay dying, inmate stole gum from his pocket

AP News
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Posted: Dec 06, 2016 12:23 PM

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) — The killing of a guard at a federal prison in Pennsylvania was a calculated slaying during which the suspect inmate paused to chew a piece of gum he took from the dying guard's pocket, federal prosecutors said in court papers.

The documents filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Wilkes-Barre, argue that a jury should see surveillance video showing the nine-minute attack and 22-minute aftermath in which guard Eric Williams lay dying before other guards arrived.

Attorneys for the inmate, Jessie Con-ui, are attempting to keep the video out of evidence when he goes on trial next year in the February 2013 stabbing death of Williams at the Canaan federal prison in Waymart.

Defense attorneys don't dispute he killed Williams. But they're opposing the death penalty and say the stabbing was retaliation for mistreatment by guards, not the calculated slaying prosecutors contend. They have argued the "graphic and disturbing" video would unduly prejudice jurors against Con-ui.

But prosecutors contend the video is necessary to convey brutality of the attack, which is a factor in the death penalty they hope the jury will impose if Con-ui is convicted.

"All of the evidence that the defendant seeks to exclude is the strongest evidence linking Con-ui to the murder," prosecutors wrote. "The fact that the defendant's attack was brutal and vicious should not act as an evidentiary shield that protects him from the truth."

The video hasn't been shown in court, but is described in the prosecution's response to a defense motion to keep it out of evidence.

It allegedly shows Con-ui "lying in wait" with two homemade knives. Con-ui can be seen casually walking toward the guard on a stairwell before kicking Williams in the face then chasing Williams and taking his radio away so he can't call for help as Con-ui knocks him down, the prosecutors wrote.

Williams was stabbed more than 200 times and was hit in the face, head and upper body. At one point, Con-ui cut his hand and stopped the attack to walk over to a shower and clean the wound before wrapping it in his shirt before continuing the attack, prosecutors wrote.

Williams, 34, was working in a housing unit at the prison when he was attacked. Prosecutors allege Con-ui was angry after the guard ordered a search of his cell the previous day.

Con-ui is now at a super-maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado, where he's serving 25 years to life for a 2002 gang initiation murder in Arizona.

Jury selection for Con-ui's trial is to begin July 11. A judge has yet to rule on whether the video belongs in evidence.