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A West Haven man who is serving a 17-year prison sentence for killing his mother is accused of brutally beating a fellow inmate at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center this spring because he did not want a cellmate.
Jay R. Hotchkiss, 30, appeared in New London Superior Court this week to face a charge of first-degree assault. Wearing a neon-orange prison jumpsuit and accompanied by two correction officers, Hotchkiss stood with attorney Kevin C. Barrs from the public defender’s office, who entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf.
The victim, identified only as a 38-year-old prisoner, was unresponsive and bleeding from the ear when he was taken to The William W. Backus Hospital for treatment following the April 21 incident, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. A physician who examined him in the emergency room told state police Detective Humberto Morales Jr. the man had bleeding of the brain, and if left untreated, could have suffered permanent injury, disability or death. He was stabilized at Backus and transferred to the University of Connecticut Health Center for further treatment.
Hotchkiss had been convicted in 2006 of fatally beating his 47-year-old mother with a dumbbell and stabbing her several times during an argument, according to news reports. Initially charged with murder, he pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of manslaughter and was sentenced to 17 years.
During their investigation, state police learned that Hotchkiss has had difficulty adjusting to having a cellmate and has had approximately 10 fights. Hotchkiss told them the Department of Correction had given him “single cell status” at Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown but assigned him a cellmate after he was transferred to Corrigan in April, according to the warrant affidavit.
Hotchkiss admitted that when he saw the man who was to be his cellmate, he immediately punched him in the face, threw him out of the cell and kicked him in the head. Correction Officer Cesar Santini saw the attack, notified other staff members and “proceeded to engage Hotchkiss due to the severity of the attack and because the victim appeared defenseless,” according to the affidavit. Hotchkiss complied with commands to place his hands on the wall and was restrained.
In an interview with detectives, Hotchkiss said, “This could have been avoided if he had been kept in a single cell.”
He is now being housed in the state’s supermax prison, the Northern Correctional Institution in Somers. He is due back in court on Sept. 10.