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Inmate charged in strangulation of cellmate |

Inmate charged in strangulation of cellmate

| Friday, March 5, 2010 12:00 a.m

A 19-year-old state prison inmate from Delaware County was charged Thursday with using a bed sheet to strangle his cell mate Sunday at a prison in Indiana County.

State police charged William Brown of Upper Darby with strangling Jayson Stewart, 29, of Arnold, at the State Correctional Institution at Pine Grove in White Township.

Brown was arraigned on charges of criminal homicide and aggravated assault by video conference before Clymer District Judge George Thachik. Brown was moved to the state prison in Somerset after the murder.

Trooper Deana Kirkland alleges the two prisoners got into an argument. Brown cut Stewart’s face with a razor blade and tried to put a sock in his mouth to try to suffocate him, police allege. When that didn’t work, Brown attempted to suffocate Stewart with a pillow, police said in an affidavit of probable cause.

Brown then wrapped a sheet around Stewart’s neck, tied it and pulled on it until Stewart died, police said.

Police said the pair had been cell mates for three days in the restricted housing unit.

Stewart, 29, who was serving a two- to four-year sentence for criminal conspiracy, was found dead in his cell around 2:35 a.m.

Brown is serving 20 to 40 years after being convicted of attempted murder, aggravated assault, robbery, criminal conspiracy and possessing instruments of crime during a botched robbery on Feb. 20, 2008, in Philadelphia, court records show.

According to news accounts of the robbery, Brown and an accomplice, Marquis Alford, now 20, of Philadelphia, attempted to rob a man. When the 22-year-old victim refused to empty his pockets, Brown shot him in the shoulder. Police caught the pair attempting to rob a second man nearby.

The pair shot at police as they fled. Alford, who was injured when police returned fire, was captured at the scene. Brown was captured later.

Alford is serving a seven- to 15-year sentence at Pine Grove for the robbery. Brown is appealing his sentence to state Superior Court.

Thachik has scheduled Brown’s preliminary hearing for April 20.

State police were summoned Tuesday to the prison to investigate an unrelated assault against a corrections officer.

Police allege an unnamed 19-year-old inmate threw a cup of an unknown liquid on the officer as he was dispensing medication to an inmate.

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