F Block trial: SCI Pittsburgh inmate alleges beating, taunting, harassment
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A convict once housed at the State Correctional Institution Pittsburgh testified today about a week of alleged abuse by officers there, but also admitted that he hoped to gain -- financially and perhaps in terms of his eventual parole -- from reiterating his account.
Randy Jones, 24, of Verona, who pleaded guilty in 2010 to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, said at the trial of former corrections officer Tory Kelly that he was taunted, harassed, terrorized and beaten by guards in late 2010 and early 2011.
Mr. Kelly, Jones said, "comes in and puts his black gloves on his hands. ... He says, 'So I don't leave fingerprints and bruises.'"
Mr. Kelly claimed to have a 52-0 record in fights on the prison's F Block, Jones said, and then hit him in the stomach. "He hits me again with a closed fist in the center of my chest, which knocks the wind out of me. ... He punches me with a closed fist in my forehead."
Mr. Kelly, Mr. Jones testified, then said that if the inmate told a higher ranking officer about it, "I'll make your life a living nightmare you won't wake up from."
The testimony came on the third day of the trial of Mr. Kelly, 41, of Aliquippa, on 19 charges including counts of intimidation of witnesses, terroristic threats, simple assault, official oppression, conspiracy, retaliation against a witness and stalking.
Mr. Kelly is the first to face trial of the four officers charged with alleged abuses on SCI Pittsburgh's F Block.
Jones spent some of his time on the stand accusing former Corrections Officer Harry F. Nicoletti, 61, of Coraopolis, of forcing the inmate to strip, kicking him to his knees and exposing himself. Mr. Nicoletti has pleaded not guilty to the 89 counts against him, and his trial is slated for January.
Defense attorney Veronica Brestensky objected to Jones' testimony on the incident, saying Mr. Kelly isn't accused of any involvement in it.
Assistant District Attorney Jon Pittman responded that "the whole theory of this case is, Officer Nicoletti would pick out who the pedophiles are and Officer Kelly would abuse them based on that."
Jones said that after Mr. Kelly hit him, he requested protective custody, and was transferred to the prison's Restricted Housing Unit. He sought a shower -- the first he would have had in five days. But when Mr. Kelly showed up to take him to wash off, with handcuffs wrapped around his fist, he declined to go, he said.
Ms. Brestensky had Jones identify in the courtroom audience Jon Pushinsky, the attorney who is representing him in a lawsuit filed in federal court in October.
"All I know is I'm seeking monetary-based ... compensation," Jones said.
He later added that he was told that "by me giving my testimony, whether it was for or against or whatever, it would look good for parole, because I was assisting with a high-profile case." He added that he can't be paroled until 2018.
Jones "started proclaiming about this and reporting it [to prison officials] long before there was any discussion of a civil suit," said Mr. Pushinsky. "Those who are injured have a right to compensation."
First Published December 19, 2012 11:48 am