Detainee gets 10-year prison term in unprovoked stabbing of Rikers CO
The detainee stabbed the CO 12 times in the back of the head with an 8-inch piece of sharpened metal
By Graham Rayman
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — A gangbanger awaiting trial for murdering his pregnant girlfriend was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison for stabbing a Rikers Island correction officer 12 times in the head with a sharpened piece of metal, prosecutors said.
Dennis Applewhite, 29, pleaded guilty Feb. 7 to a charge of first-degree attempted assault for the unprovoked attack on the officer last Halloween in a protective custody unit in Rikers’ Anna M. Kross Center.
“This was a brazen, unprovoked attack against a correction officer who was working his shift,” said Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark.
Benny Boscio, president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, said Applewhite was trying to kill the officer and that the 10-year sentence “doesn’t go nearly far enough.”
“This brazen and unprovoked vicious assault on our officer was nothing short of attempted murder,” Boscio said.
“More than 80% of the inmates in our custody are facing violent felony charges, and they don’t stop committing violent crimes while they are in jail. Without meaningful consequences for these types of assaults, no one in our jails can be safe. It’s time to stop coddling violent felons and start protecting our officers.”
Applewhite, who is 6-feet-6, walked up to the 28-year-old officer about 4:45 p.m. on Oct. 31 and stabbed him repeatedly in the back of the head with an 8-inch piece of sharpened metal, prosecutors said.
Other correction officers sprang to their colleague’s aid and wrestled Applewhite to the floor. The badly wounded officer suffered multiple lacerations to his head and a puncture to the right side of his neck that left him still unable to fully turn his head.
Mayor Adams visited the officer in the hospital later that day, and called the attack “vicious and senseless.”
Neither the Correction Department nor Clark’s office would say Wednesday where Applewhite got the metal used to make the weapon he wielded in the attack. Protective custody is supposed to included heightened security measures.
A draft Board of Correction report obtained by the Daily News said 90% of weapons seized from January through March 2022 were made from pieces ripped from the aging jails, like “plexiglass, metal rods, sharpened metal, sharpened plastic, sharpened wood, glass, institutional razors, screws, nails and razor ribbon.”
In March 2022, eight months before Applewhite’s attack on the officer, the Correction Department told a federal court-appointed monitor tracking violence in the jails that removing “alien infrastructure items” was a priority.
More than 4,000 weapons were recovered between January and August 2022. But October saw 46 slashings — one of the highest totals of the year, the Board of Correction report said.
“The chronic disrepair and ailing infrastructures on Rikers Island will continue to supply people in custody with materials to fashion dangerous weapons, and the [ Correction Department] must address and respond to this fact accordingly,” the Board of Correction report said.
Applewhite remains held without bail in the North Infirmary Command at Rikers, where he is awaiting trial for the murder of his pregnant girlfriend.
He is accused of shooting Brittani Duffy, 28 in front of her young son at the Vladeck Houses on Madison St. near Jackson St. on the Lower East Side on Nov. 11, 2021, police said.
Applewhite was arrested in February 2022. Duffy clung to life for days before she died from her wounds.
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