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Former jailer seeks to delay trial
Oct 28, 2004 12:00 am
The former Wilson County Jail guard accused of leading a long-running conspiracy of brutalizing prisoners – one of them fatally – is asking his trial be postponed.
An attorney for former Sgt. Patrick Marlowe filed the request Tuesday in U.S. District Court, asking his scheduled Dec. 7 trial date be delayed.
A court clerk said no reason was given for the request. Attempts to contact Marlowe's attorney, Bo Taylor, were unsuccessful Wednesday.
Marlowe was identified in a federal grand jury indictment handed down against five former guards as a "leader … and manager" of the alleged conspiracy to unlawfully beat prisoners and then cover up the crimes.
Charged along with Marlowe were former Cpl. Gary Hale and ex-jailers Shane Conatser, Robert Locke and Robert Bryan Ferrell. The indictment alleges the guards beat prisoners in cells, hallways and the jail's booking area, resulting in severe injuries to several detainees.
Marlowe and Hale are also charged with fatally beating inmate Walter S. Kuntz, 43, whose head injury death prompted the U.S. Department of Justice inquiry into the jail. The two could be sentenced to life in prison if found guilty of the charges relating to Kuntz, while the three co-conspirators face up to 10 years in prison each plus $250,000 in fines.
Meanwhile, three of four other former jailers who pleaded guilty to charges filed against them in federal informations have had their sentencing hearings – originally set for next month – delayed until early 2005.
Former guards William Westmoreland, Travis Bradley and John McKinney will be sentenced Jan. 14. The fourth ex-jailer who has pleaded guilty, Chris McCathern, is still scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 29 though a motion is pending asking his hearing be delayed until January as well.
Westmoreland's attorney, Gary Vandever, would not comment when asked if the sentencing hearing delay might be an indication that his client will testify against his former co-workers when the case goes to trial.
"All I have to say is he has entered a plea of guilty to the offense," Vandever said, declining to discuss the case further.
The indictment handed down last July brought to an end an intensive 18-month investigation of the jail, which still faces several federal civil lawsuits levying a wide range of allegations.
The indictment alleges the five guards routinely beat prisoners and charges they would often "inform and encourage each other by bragging about and re-enacting these assaults, including compiling an oral 'knockout list' of victims who had been rendered unconscious during an assault."
Senior Staff Writer Brooks Franklin can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 14 or by e-mail at email@example.com.