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