The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

February 21, 2013

Jurors give split verdict on state prison guard assaults

SUNBURY — SUNBURY - After more than 20 hours of testimony, a 22-year-old state prisoner who lacks a high school diploma and who represented himself in Northumberland County Court, convinced a jury to acquit him of five of six charges after he said he was defending himself when being attacked by guards.

While the jury convicted Dashaun Jamison, of York, of one count of aggravated assault for a November 2010 incident at the State Correctional Institution at Coal Township, one by one jurors said they were impressed with how he presented his case.

“I took on the Northumberland County district attorney’s office,” Jamison said after the 11 p.m. verdict on Tuesday, “and I won.”

Jamison, an inmate at Northumberland County Prison, does not have a law degree.

“The guy was great,” said an alternate juror, who declined to give her name. “He was so well-spoken.”

Jamison was charged by state police at Stonington with two felony counts of aggravated assault and two of attempted aggravated assault. He was also charged with two misdemeanor counts of simple assault after two prison guards were taken to a hospital following a November 2010 incident at the State Correctional Institution at Coal Township.

He was found guilty of one of the aggravated assaults, a decision for which some jurors actually apologized.

“I’ll appeal that one because I don’t think the jury understood completely,” Jamison said. “(The jury) did a great job, though.”

Jamison insisted he was being mistreated and set up to get beaten by prison guards. He said was defending himself in striking the guards.

The incident was caught on video surveillance and played throughout the trial.

Jamison strolled around the courtroom and asked each of the state’s witnesses question after question, even badgering a state police detective.

The surveillance shows Jamison and guards in a fistfight as well as Jamison being overpowered and placed inside a holding cell.

Jamison, who was housed in the Restrictive Housing Unit at SCI Coal Township in 2010, was locked in his cell 23 of 24 hours a day.

No cell door is opened unless there is a reason, Jamison told jurors.

“They open for showers, recreational time and other cases, but it isn’t something that is done without guards knowing,” he said.

On Nov. 18, 2010, Jamison’s cell door was “popped” open and a beating was about to be delivered, Jamison said.

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