Almost exactly three years after then-corrections officer Arii L. Metz punched then-inmate David Kipp in an Allegheny County Jail cell, the two met again Tuesday, with the former's freedom on the line.
Mr. Metz, 35, of the North Side, could face three to four years in prison for violating the civil rights of Mr. Kipp, 27. The former jail guard and family and friends pleaded with U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer to allow him to continue in a new life, which has him working as president of a small medical billing firm and striving to be a single dad to his 7-year-old son.
"If I could get on top of the USX building and apologize to the world, I would," said Mr. Metz. "I wouldn't have a problem apologizing to Mr. Kipp."
"Despite the terrible things that have happened to me, I forgive Arii Metz, because I have to move on with my life," Mr. Kipp testified minutes later. But he moves on with exacerbated post-traumatic stress disorder and the need for psychiatric care.
Mr. Kipp was jailed after a fight with his boyfriend and on drug possession charges. He alleged that Mr. Metz made "derogatory slurs about my sexual orientation," and later beat him up.
Mr. Metz's attorney, James Wymard, said that Mr. Kipp contributed to the October 2010 incident by disobeying orders in jail. He also argued that the temporary damage to Mr. Kipp's face and eardrums was due in part to the victim banging his head against the cell door.
Mr. Wymard said that repeatedly striking Mr. Kipp was a once-in-a-career aberration for Mr. Metz, that the defendant is needed at his company, and that he is extraordinarily central to the life of his son.
Mr. Metz's ex-wife is not involved in raising their son, Mr. Wymard said. Mr. Metz's mother, who was deeply involved with the boy, died in 2011.
"How will we ever get [the son] through another catastrophic loss?" asked Linda Bradley, Mr. Metz's aunt, in tearful testimony before Judge Fischer. "This 30 seconds [during which Mr. Kipp was abused] does not define what my nephew is."
Mr. Metz said his son is going through anxiety stemming from his losses. Every day, he said, "I pinky swear I'll be there at the end of the day."
Judge Fischer set Dec. 20 for Mr. Metz's sentencing.neigh_city - breaking
Rich Lord: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord First Published October 15, 2013 1:41 PM