Judge reduces bond for one of five guards accused of causing an inmate's death

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BOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Update:

A judge ruled Tuesday in a bond decision for five former Boyd County Detention Center guards accused of abusing an inmate who died later at the facility.

That judge ruled bond would remain at $100,000 for suspects Jeremy Mattox, Brad Roberts, Colton Griffith and Zachary Messer. Suspect Alicia Beller's bond was reduced from $100,000 to $50,000.

As of Tuesday evening, all of the suspects except Griffith were still in custody.

All five suspects face first-degree manslaughter charges in the death of Michael Moore, who was found dead at the jail on Nov. 29.

According to information from the court's bond decision, Moore died from blunt force trauma to his side which fractured three ribs and caused internal bleeding, resulting in death. It says the blow allegedly happened in a restroom adjacent to the jail's booking room where the victim was thrown against a combined toilet and sink.

Beller was located some distance away at that time in a control room, according to documentation. She testified that she heard a cracking sound, allegedly from Moore's body when he hit the toilet.

During the incident, Moore also was placed upside down in a restraint chair, court documents show, and the suspects are seen laughing. Griffith was seen flexing his arms as he left the restroom as Maddox, Messer and Roberts continue to handle the victim.

The documentation also says the restroom incident happened when Moore clearly wasn't having a "sudden violent outburst."

"Far from it. The Defendant was barely coherent and was twitching uncontrollably. As the video demonstrated, hours prior to the alleged fatal event the victim was held face first into a wall by Messer then suddenly slammed into the wall face first then falling, being picked up and pushed in like manner back into the wall."

If the five suspects are found guilty of manslaughter, they face 10 to 20 years behind bars.

Original Story-Posted 1/8/18

Video obtained by our sister-station WSAZ shows five former guards at the Boyd County Detention Center allegedly abusing an inmate, who died at the facility just hours later.

To watch the video, click HERE.

The guards are:

-Alicia Leora Beller, 21, of Putnam County, West Virginia
-Jeremy Mattox, 25, of Grayson, Kentucky
-Brad Roberts, 28, of Westwood, Kentucky
-Colton Griffith, 23, of Flatwoods, Kentucky
-Zackary Messer, 28, of Ashland

The five appeared in court Monday for a bond reduction hearing after being booked on $100,000 cash-only bonds on Dec. 21. They were indicted then by a grand jury for manslaughter in connection with the death of Michael Moore, who was found dead at the jail on Nov. 29.

WSAZ was the only television station in the courtroom when prosecutors played video from inside the jail, spanning several hours, that shows the five playing a role in what investigators call "abusing" Moore.

During the investigation, detectives say they learned that Moore was highly intoxicated when he was booked at the jail, which led to his confinement in a restraint chair and rendered him mentally and physically helpless.

Detectives say the investigation further revealed that, while incarcerated, the five jail deputies intentionally abused Moore, or knowingly permitted his abuse, and that the mistreatment caused Moore's death.

The first clip shows Moore in an orange jumpsuit moments after he was brought in to the Boyd County Detention Center. An investigator who testified described the video as it was played when what appears to be Messer holding Moore against a wall face first. When Moore tried to loosen from the hold, the video shows Messer hitting Moore's head against the wall before placing Moore in a restraint chair where investigators say he was tied to off and on for several hours, including upside down at one point by Mattox.

Moore was upside down in the chair for roughly three minutes. Investigators testified Mattox told them that it was from a tactic he had learned at another facility to calm inmates down. It is unclear if that tactic is actually used at the jail Mattox mentioned.

Trooper Jeffery Kelley with Kentucky State Police said in court that Roberts, who was the supervisor in charge on the night the alleged abuse happened, told him that that is against policy at the Boyd County Detention Center. Kelley said Roberts told him he was not in the room when Mattox tipped Moore's chair over. However, the video played shows Roberts watching Mattox tip the chair back.

Kelley also testified Roberts said when he saw Moore upside down, he "immediately tipped him (Moore) upright." However, Kelley added that before tipping Moore back Roberts flicked Moore on the head. The video shows Roberts standing over Moore 23 seconds before picking him up.

Later in the hearing, the prosecution played video showing the men indicted picking Moore up from the chair. Moore is seen walking in one direction when a guard, identified as Messer, grabs Moore, who then falls over the restraint chair.

He is picked up by Messer and Griffith, who investigators say threw Moore into a nearby bathroom where he hit against a metal toilet.

It is here where investigators say Beller, who was in an observation room that displays all security footage, heard a crack. It is believed that crack was Moore's ribs or back.

Kelley testified that the medical examiner, "verbally told me that the cause of death was blunt force trauma" to the left side of his rib cage. Kelley said the medical examiner told him that Moore died from internal bleeding from damage by three broken ribs.

Investigators say at no point did Moore get any kind of medical treatment from the jail before his death. However he says Messer told him he tried to get Moore treatment after the bathroom incident, but Roberts told him to stand down.

Roberts allegedly told detectives the opposite, saying he told the other men they were being too rough on Moore. The men deny that.

An attorney for Griffith asked Kelley if Moore falling from the top bunk in a jail cell, which was not shown Monday, could have contributed to Moore's death. Kelley said no, adding video from that fall shows Moore falling on his hands and knees. He does hit his head, but records show the injuries that caused his death are not connected to any injuries sustained in that fall.

The judge says a ruling on lowering the guards' bond will come Tuesday.

If they are found guilty of manslaughter, the five face 10-20 years behind bars.



 
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