Prisoner who fatally beat man gets 5 years says inmates coerced him into attack on child rape suspect |

Prisoner who fatally beat man gets 5 years says inmates coerced him into attack on child rape suspect

The Associated Press

URBANA, Ohio — An inmate who beat a child-rape suspect who died a few days later was sentenced on Wednesday to five years in prison.

Defendant Zachary Butler said he was forced to attack victim David Piersol by other inmates who threatened to stab Butler with sharpened pencils if he didn’t carry out the assault as the new kid on the jail block.

He said he was told he had to “earn his tray,” referring to jail food trays.

Butler also said other inmates physically attacked Piersol later in a jail bathroom, an allegation rejected by Champaign County Judge Nick Selvaggio for lack of evidence.

“You don’t know with any certainty that other inmates were the ones that caused the blows to his head, do you?” the judge asked Butler.

“No, sir,” Butler said.

Prosecutor Kevin Talebi also said there was no evidence of such an attack, with evidence showing Butler struck Piersol “several times” in the head with his knee.

“What’s clear is this defendant is the one who caused the death,” Talebi said.

But the judge agreed that Butler acted under “strong provocation” because of the inmate threats against him.

Butler also was fined $1,500 and ordered to serve three years of probation after prison.

Butler said he was told to assault Piersol after other inmates harassed Piersol for several minutes, calling him a “child molester” who should be beaten up.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.