Three Orleans Parish Prison inmates accused of attacking a 16-year-old in the jail last month have been rearrested on counts of second-degree battery in a beating that has highlighted the continuing problem of violence at the troubled lockup.
Rebooked in the attack were Justin Walker and Devonte Baker, 17-year-olds jailed last year on murder charges, and a 16-year-old inmate whose name was not released because of his age.
Walker and Baker both admitted to attacking Joshua Brady, an inmate awaiting trial as an adult for armed robbery, but the teens offered differing explanations for the violence, court records show.
Walker told a detective that Brady had been “talking (trash),” while Baker told authorities he had loaned Brady a set of pajamas that he failed to return. The 16-year-old suspect, originally jailed on three counts of armed robbery, declined to make a statement on the advice of his attorney.
Brady provided the names of his assailants to investigators, but arrest reports show investigators also were able to identify the three attackers in surveillance footage of the incident.
Brady’s injuries were not described in the arrest reports, but other court documents show he appeared in Criminal District Court the day after the attack, suggesting he was not gravely injured. Brady’s defense attorney did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday, and a spokesman for Sheriff Marlin Gusman said he did not have specifics about the inmate’s injuries.
A law enforcement official who described the attack to The New Orleans Advocate last month on the condition of anonymity referred to the beating as “pretty serious.”
“It was told to us that he had a broken nose and he had internal bleeding,” the official said of Brady, noting, however, that the inmate was not at the hospital very long.
The fight happened June 4 on the youth tier at OPP’s Conchetta building.
The law enforcement official said the inmates “stomped” Brady after returning from recreational time. “They were out on the yard and when they went back upstairs, no one had locked them down, so they were all out together,” the official said last month, adding that the assailants began jumping on Brady.
The inmates were not rearrested until some three weeks after the attack, but Philip Stelly, the sheriff’s spokesman, said jail officials followed standard procedure. “It looks like everything was done by the book,” he said.
Walker and Baker had been arrested last year in the shooting death of 17-year-old Aaron Ganier. Court records show Walker is due back in court later this month in that case.
Last month’s beating came almost exactly a year after a notorious incident at Conchetta in which another 16-year-old inmate, Brian Ellis, was allegedly stabbed more than 20 times by a teenager on the youth tier. Ellis had been asleep when his alleged assailant, Edward Dean, poured grits over his cellmate’s face and began stabbing him with a shank.
Rampant jailhouse violence was among the many concerns listed by U.S. District Judge Lance Africk last year when he approved a federal consent decree that calls for sweeping reforms at OPP. Gusman’s critics say he has been slow to implement court-ordered changes intended to ensure constitutional conditions at the jail.
Katie Schwartzmann, the attorney whose class-action lawsuit prompted the consent decree, said last month that the conditions faced by youths at OPP remain among her most serious concerns about the jail. She said 15- and 16-year-old boys are locked down in single-person cells for 23 hours a day, and the solitary confinement results in their “deterioration and a growing sense of fear, hopelessness and rage.”
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