Jury convicts jail rioter
A jury on Tuesday convicted Garfield County Jail inmate Clarence Vandehey of disobeying an order while rioting in a detention facility, a Class 5 felony charge stemming from a November 2005 disturbance in the jail involving three other inmates. Vandehey, who pleaded not-guilty to the rioting charge for which he has been jailed since December, was also convicted Tuesday of two related charges, including second-degree misdemeanor criminal tampering and second-degree misdemeanor criminal mischief.He is being held in jail until his Sept. 8 sentencing hearing. Vandehey and inmates William Baine Langley, Ryan Sims and Forest Mangus on Nov. 29, 2005, each trashed their own jail cells, plugging their sinks and toilets with toilet paper, causing a flood. Water from the flood leaked into Sheriff Lou Vallario’s office below. Langley pleaded not-guilty to a related rioting charge, but a trial date has not been set. In her closing arguments Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney Amy Fitch showed the jury a video of the damage Vandehey did to his cell. The video illustrated a tremendous mess – toilet paper was plastered all over Vandehey’s cell door and wall, and remains of a shattered plastic tub, a jail uniform and other destroyed items lay strewn about. Vandehey was charged with criminal mischief for destroying his tub and uniform, while the tampering charge stemmed from damage he did to his cell door and other fixtures. “It was a horrible situation,” Fitch said. There was some disagreement over the definition of a riot, which state law says is a disturbance involving three or more people whose violent conduct threatens injury to themselves, other people or property. But the inmates involved in the riot were acting unruly separated from each other in their cells. Fitch told the jury it doesn’t matter if they weren’t in the same room, the inmates were threatening the safety of themselves and the jailers who demanded Vandehey cease and desist. But Vandehey continued kicking his door, yelling, screaming and damaging his cell, disobeying jailers’ every order. “There wasn’t a riot,” Vandehey’s lawyer, Kathy Goudy, countered. “It doesn’t meet the test of common sense.”Because two of the rioting inmates’ roommates did not join in the disturbance, it couldn’t have been a riot, Goudy said. According to the video of the riot shown to jurors, there were no orders given for the inmates to follow, and the inmates never touched any of the jailers, she said. But Fitch said that orders to cease and desist didn’t have to be specific to be understood. “They were told to stop banging,” Fitch said. “They knew what the order was,” and Vandehey understood he was to get on his knees and allow a deputy to subdue him. Goudy denied that claim, and finished her arguments with a comment about how jailers treated Vandehey in the jail, trailing off as she spoke: “If you treat people like animals …” Vandehey and fellow rioter Langley are plaintiffs in an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in July that cites alleged abuses they and two other inmates endured while in jail. The suit claims Vandehey was abused by Sheriff’s deputies after being jailed in December for rioting. Jailers allegedly shot Vandehey with a pepperball gun without being given the chance to wash off the pepper dust, and placed him in a restraint chair on multiple occasions, sometimes for punishment, and sometimes for hours at a time. Vallario denies all allegations of abuse in the jail. Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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