Inmate bound for court for attack on guard
September 23, 2010
A Warren County Jail inmate charged with trying to kill a prison guard was held on all charges for further court action after a preliminary hearing Wednesday at the jail.
Dean S. Gordon, 41, sat in a caged area in a small room inside the jail while District Justice Art Zerbe stood outside the cage to hear the testimony in the case.
According to witnesses, Gordon attacked two corrections officers on the afternoon of Friday, Aug. 13.
The first witness called by District Attorney Ross McKeirnan was Deputy Warden Steve Smith. Smith showed a several-minute jail security video of a physical altercation between an inmate and two corrections officers.
Corrections Sgt. Ben Kraft said he and Officer Ryan Tipton went to Gordon’s cell in the isolation area after Gordon said he was having a medical problem.
After consulting with a doctor, Kraft had Tipton take Gordon a dose of blood pressure medication.
That was not what Gordon wanted, according to Kraft. The inmate became “elevated in his temper.”
“He said he needed to make a 30-second phone call to his wife,” Tipton said.
Kraft said he told Gordon he would not be allowed to do that because he did not have any call privileges that day.
Gordon said he would make the call “whether he had to go through us or not,” Tipton said.
Kraft said he told Gordon to calm down.
Both officers said Gordon started to put his shoes on and repeated that he was going to make the call.
“He charged Sgt. Kraft with his hands up,” Tipton said.
“I tried to restrain him,” Kraft said. “We started having a tussle in the cell.”
Gordon, who according to witness Greg Deivert, an officer with Warren County Adult Probation, claimed to be a champion power-lifter, knocked Kraft off balance, Kraft said.
In the video, the two men can be seen stumbling out of the cell and crashing to the floor.
“Mr. Gordon got his arm around my neck,” Kraft said. “He whipped me down to the ground, slammed me to the floor, applying more and more pressure.”
On the video, the man identified as Gordon has his forearm across the throat of Kraft and Tipton has his arm around Gordon’s neck and seems to be trying to pull him off of Kraft.
“I started losing vision... started to lose air,” Kraft said. “I passed out on the floor.”
The video shows Tipton and Gordon continuing to grapple, with Gordon’s hold on Kraft released.
In the video, Kraft lies motionless on the floor for several seconds as Gordon and Tipton fight. “He was trying to grab for my throat,” Tipton said. “He did grab my radio and ripped it off the front of me.”
According to Tipton he called out to Kraft several times.
After Kraft staggered to his feet, he rejoined the altercation. Shortly thereafter, two other guards can be seen on the video entering the room and working with Tipton and Kraft to subdue Gordon.
Tipton said Kraft used pepper spray on Gordon, with “overspray” hitting the officers.
Kraft testified that he was taken to Warren General Hospital for treatment. He said he missed three days of work and his pain level “was a 10. I couldn’t turn my head. I couldn’t talk.”
Tipton said he was treated for a sprained hand and bruised ribs as a result of the altercation. He also missed three days of work, he said.
When questioned by Gordon’s attorney, Gerald Benyo, the officers said they did not remember any punches or kicks thrown by Gordon.
Including charges added to the complaint by McKeirnan at the beginning of the hearing, Gordon faces criminal attempt - homicide, eight counts of aggravated assault, and two counts of recklessly endangering another person.
McKeirnan asked Zerbe to have Gordon held for further court action on all charges.
Benyo argued that a deadly weapon enhancement should be dropped from an aggravated assault charge. “The commonwealth argued that Mr. Dean (Gordon) is a deadly weapon,” he said. “Simply saying that a man is strong is a very slippery slope.”
McKeirnan said strength is an issue “when someone of his strength applies pressure to a vital point — the throat...”
Benyo also argued that the attempted homicide charge should be dropped. “What we have here, your honor, is Mr. Dean didn’t do as he was directed,” he said. “Mr. Dean... voluntarily stopped” choking Kraft.
“It’s not criminal attempt at homicide,” Benyo said.
Zerbe disagreed. “Mr. Gordon not only has him in a choke hold, he has him bent back,” Zerbe said.
And, Zerbe said Gordon let go of Kraft because of the actions of Tipton. “He didn’t let go voluntarily,” he said.
Zerbe ordered Gordon held on all charges.
He did not set bail. Because of the seriousness of the charges, “bail must be set by a judge of the Court of Common Pleas,” he said.