Partial victory for defense team of inmate accused of killing Pa. CO
Jesse Con-ui is accused of stabbing CO Eric Williams at U.S. Penitentiary at Canaan in 2013
By James Halpin
The Citizens' Voice
WILKES-BARRE, Pa.— The gang assassin accused of murdering a correctional officer at U.S. Penitentiary at Canaan won a partial victory Thursday when a federal judge ruled his defense will have access to additional discovery information.
Con-ui is awaiting trial over the Feb. 25, 2013, stabbing death of Nanticoke native Eric Williams, a federal correctional officer who died after being kicked down a flight of stairs, then beaten and slashed with two shanks.
His attorneys have not disputed that Con-ui was responsible for the slaying, which was caught on video, but they are seeking to avoid the death penalty for their client by offering evidence of what they allege are systemic problems within the federal Bureau of Prisons related to officers' treatment of prisoners.
Prosecutors have fought the disclosure of additional discovery materials, arguing that Con-ui, who is already serving 25 years to life for a 2002 murder, committed a pre-meditated murder unrelated to any other issues that may occur in prisons across the country.
In a ruling Thursday, U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo delivered a split decision, ordering prosecutors to turn over some of the materials the defense has been seeking. The data includes a list of prison homicides from 2005 through 2015, information on staff and prison murder offenders, discipline data on death row inmates, and "shakedown" logs for ADX Florence, the supermaximum security prison in Colorado where Con-ui is being held.
Caputo denied a request for all communications between federal prosecutors, the Bureau of Prisons, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, finding Con-ui "failed to demonstrate any factual basis for why the correspondence or communications are material to mitigation evidence."
Con-ui's trial is scheduled to begin in April. He remains in custody at the Colorado prison.