Jury finds convicted killer guilty of slashing prison warden

A New London jury on Thursday found convicted killer Kenyon Joseph guilty of slashing a deputy warden in the face with a shank fashioned from a sharpened toothbrush on Sept. 10, 2012, at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution.

Joseph, 42, is serving a 56-year sentence for felony murder for his involvement in a 2001 shooting in Meriden that claimed the life of a 22-year-old man. He will be sentenced Jan. 4 for assault on a public safety officer.

According to court documents, Joseph became disruptive during a briefing from prison officials about recreational time. While being escorted back to his cell, he broke free and went after Warden Scott Erge with the shank. 

Deputy Warden Stephen Bates intervened and was slashed in the face. Erge suffered a punctured cheek that required medical treatment.

Joseph claims he went after the warden because he had previously been attacked by two gang members at Corrigan. He said the department had not acted on his requests to transfer out of the prison and he knew he would be sent to the Northern Correctional Institution if he assaulted a staff member.

He is currently being held at Northern, the state's maximum security prison.

While the slashing case was pending, Superior Court Judge John M. Newson denied defense attorney W. Theodore Koch III's motion to use the defense of necessity, or "choice of evils" defense, a common law defense that holds he had no legal alternative but to attack the warden.

Newson ruled that Joseph had not met the three-pronged burden of showing there was no legal alternative available, that the harm he sought to prevent was imminent and that a direct causal relationship exists between his action and the avoidance of harm.

Kenyon pleaded no contest to the assault in 2014 with the condition that he could appeal the defense of necessity ruling and was sentenced to two years in prison.

He appealed, and the state Appellate Court reversed the conviction and sent the case back to the trial court. The appeals court wrote in a December 2015 decision that reviewing the defense of necessity ruling did not fall within the court's jurisdiction, but that Joseph's plea should be vacated because he entered it with the condition that he could appeal.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant State's Attorney Thomas M. DeLillo.

k.florin@theday.com

 

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