Prison assault trial set for April

HOLLIDAYSBURG — At least three men accused a year ago in the assault and sexual assault of two fellow Blair County Prison inmates are scheduled for a jury trial in April.

A fourth defendant may be tried too, depending on courtroom and security accommodations.

Judge Wade Kagarise met Friday with attorneys representing Curtis “Tank” Ramsey, Charles Frank and Zachary Moore, whose trial was halted in February after a juror told the court she thought she was developing a bias and talked about it with fellow jurors.

Friday’s meeting included attorney Nathan Pletcher, appointed in January to represent Maurice D. Wakefield II, who is charged in the assaults, and attorney Thomas M. Dickey, who represents Dalton Zeiders, a former prison guard on duty during the assaults.

Dickey said after Friday’s meeting that Zeiders will be tried separately and that he will be filing pre-trial motions in defense of his client. Zeiders, who resigned from the county in October, is facing felony charges of assault by prisoner, criminal conspiracy to assault by prisoner and misdemeanor charges of official oppression, unlawful restraint and recklessly endangering another person.

District Attorney Richard Consiglio and Assistant District Amanda Jacobson also attended Friday’s meeting with the defense attorneys and Kagarise.

After February’s trial ended unexpectedly, Consiglio said he was definitely seeking a retrial.

Kagarise is expected to sign an order setting jury selection on March 12 for Ramsey, who is represented by attorney Richard Corcoran; for Frank, who is represented by attorney Robert Donaldson; and for Moore, who is represented by attorney Mark Zearfaus.

At the February trial, tables and chairs had to be set up in Courtroom 4 to accommodate those three defendants, the three defense attorneys plus the sheriff deputies assigned to escort and remain with the defendants.

If a courtroom can be set up to include Wakefield and his attorney, then they will also be included in the March 12 jury selection.

Hollidaysburg Borough police filed charges against the inmates in mid-May after investigating reports of physical and sexual assaults of two male inmates including one who had tobacco in his rectum. The sexual assault charges stem from alleged efforts by others to retrieve the tobacco.

Charges filed include involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, criminal conspiracy to commit involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated assault, terroristic threats, false imprisonment, reckless endangerment, simple assault and harassment.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.