Monday, 16 September 2013 12:38

Inmate Convicted of Assault

By Staff Report | News

SARATOGA SPRINGS – An inmate at Saratoga County Jail who sucker punched another inmate causing severe facial damage was found guilty of second degree assault after a week long jury trial in Saratoga County Court before Judge Jerry Scarano.

Royal D. Hamilton, 32 of 28 Jefferson Street, Saratoga Springs and also of the Saratoga County Jail was found guilty of causing physical injury to another person while he was an inmate in the jail.

District Attorney James Murphy III said the conviction stemmed from an incident that occurred on October 9, 2012 while Hamilton and the victim were both incarcerated in the jail. The victim was in the jail doing six months for a felony DWI conviction.

During his incarceration and to "make his time go by faster" the victim applied for and obtained a position as an uncompensated kitchen aid where he worked approximately 70 hours each week. On the October 9, he was in Housing Unit B-1 helping the civilian cooks serve lunch. At 11:30 a.m. and the victim began passing out bowls of condiments to each table in the housing unit from a full tray that he was carrying when suddenly, the defendant without warning and without justification, “sucker-punched” the man in the face with his left hand, knocking him to the ground, where he landed on his knees. Hamilton then immediately and violently struck him again, this time in the back of the head.

The victim suffered a fractured nose, bruises and lacerations to his upper lip and bridge of his nose, requiring a total of 14 sutures. To this day the victim also suffers breathing difficulty that he described feeling like chronic congestion.

The DA’s office called six witnesses including Sheriff's personnel, plus the victim and introduced medical records. Hamilton, who took the stand in his own defense, claimed he was “justified” in his attack because he said the victim “messed with his food” and “was about to hit him with the tray”, despite all evidence to the contrary including a video recording of the actual incident. There was no proof that supported the defendant’s story other than his own statement. 

Under cross examination by Assistant District Attorney Alan Poremba, the defendant admitted that he was not afraid of the victim. The jury, rejecting the defendant’s claim of justification, found his “story” contrary to the physical and testimonial evidence, returned a guilty verdict on the one count indictment of second degree assault. The jury deliberated for about 10 hours. 

“There is no difference if the victim is on the street or in the jail. Everyone deserves the right to go about his business without being attacked. If we do not protect the inmates in our correctional facilities then we will have bedlam and anarchy. Sheriff Bowen runs a professional jail that has rules to keep inmates and corrections officers safe,” said Murphy. “We must prosecute those who don't abide by the rules and the law to hold them responsible for their criminal conduct and to deter others from acting out in the future. The jury has done the right thing and justice has been served today.”

The defendant has a lengthy criminal record having been arrested a total of 11 times. He was in the jail for the pending indictment of criminal possession of a controlled substance third degree, criminal possession with intent to sell of a narcotic, fourth degree and criminal possession of a controlled substance, seventh degree. In addition, he was being held on a parole hold in that he had violated his felony parole for being arrested on the drug charge out of Saratoga Springs. He faces up to 15 years on the drug charges which are pending prosecution since he is a second violent felony offender, including a conviction for a robbery in Brooklyn in 2005 and faces up to an additional seven years imprisonment at sentencing on the assault.

Sentencing has been scheduled for November 8.

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