SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

October 2, 2013

Inmate in coma after beating inside Middleton Jail

MIDDLETON — A Saugus man charged with beating a fellow inmate nearly unconscious in a Middleton Jail cell last month has pleaded not guilty to charges that include aggravated assault and battery.

During a hearing yesterday, Eric Guerriero’s bail was set at $25,000 cash; he’s not expected to post that bail because he’s currently serving a sentence on gun and drug charges.

The Sept. 17 incident left the victim, a 36-year-old Newbury man, hospitalized at Lahey Hospital in a medically induced coma and suffering brain injuries, according to court papers.

According to a report by a jail investigator, the victim was in a common area outside the cells, watching television, when Guerriero, 23, approached and motioned for him to go with him to a nearby cell, an encounter caught on video.

Sometime after that, shortly after 3 p.m., another inmate found the victim, who was awaiting trial on alleged restraining order violations, bleeding on the floor, incoherent, moaning and shaking. He turned the victim on his side so he would not choke on his own blood and told a second inmate, who immediately went to a corrections officer.

The victim suffered multiple head and facial injuries, according to the report. Photos show the man bleeding from his eye and mouth as he lay on a stretcher.

The entire confrontation, investigators learned, was witnessed by Guerriero’s cellmate, a Salem man awaiting trial on drunken-driving charges, who was using a phone at the time.

The cellmate initially told investigators that he “felt bad” because he thought Guerriero and the victim were only going to talk. But when jail investigators listened to a recording of the phone call the cellmate was on at the time, they heard him laughing and offering a blow-by-blow account.

He later admitted that the assault was Guerriero’s response to feeling “disrespected” by the victim during an earlier encounter in the gym.

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