Peter Sanchez-Santiago
Peter Sanchez-Santiago

The old adage about idle hands being the devil's tools proved true for one York County Prison inmate who was found guilty Wednesday of trying to squirt an unholy brew of feces, urine and water at corrections officers.

But in case his idle hands weren't sufficient tools, Peter Sanchez-Santiago also tucked three homemade shanks under his genitals, according to state police.

After about three hours of deliberation, a jury found Sanchez-Santiago guilty of aggravated harassment by a prisoner, a third-degree felony.

But jurors acquitted the 36-year-old York City man of being a prisoner in illegal possession of weapons or implements of escape, a first-degree misdemeanor.

Deputy prosecutor Jeff Rigby, who tried the case, said that's likely because prison officials disposed of the weapons, also called shivs, before a decision was made to file charges.

"In this case we did not physically have the weapons (to show jurors), or for that matter photographs of the weapons," he said.

What happened: The incident happened June 20 in Sanchez-Santiago's prison cell.

He already was being held in segregation for being a problem inmate and was on "water restriction," Rigby said. Some problem inmates intentionally flood their cells with toilet water, so they are given only limited water usage, authorities confirmed.


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Sanchez-Santiago filled an empty toothpaste tube with a mixture of feces, urine and water from his toilet, then used the tube to squirt the mixture at people walking past his cell, including corrections officers, court documents state.

None of the guards was hit with the mixture, Rigby said.

'Gassing': Enough prison inmates across the country have hurled the brew at guards that the act has been given a name -- "gassing."

The floor of Sanchez-Santiago's prison cell also was covered in feces and filthy water, Rigby said.

Two guards ordered him to put his hands outside the cell so they could secure him but he refused, then started banging his head against the cell door, state police said.

At that point, corrections officers opened the door and tried to restrain Sanchez-Santiago, who took a swing at a guard and bit the guard's finger, according to court documents, which note the inmate had tested positive for Hepatitis C. The bite broke the skin, police said.

Rigby said he has no reason to believe the guard suffered health problems because of the bite.

Alleged weapons: After getting Sanchez-Santiago under control, corrections officers searched him. That's when they found a pencil, toothbrush and comb hidden under his genitals, according to state police.

Each of the three items had been sharpened at one end, police said.

The charges against Sanchez-Santiago initially included felony assault by a prisoner for the alleged bite, but that charge was withdrawn at the defendant's preliminary hearing, apparently as part of a planned plea agreement that fell apart, according to Rigby, who tried unsuccessfully to have the charge reinstated at trial.

Appeal likely: Public defender Joshua Neiderhiser said he expects Sanchez-Santiago will appeal.

"He is upset about the verdict, claiming there is no evidence," Neiderhiser said. Rigby said he was pleased with the jury's decision, "but it would have been nice to get a conviction on the weapons charge too."

The attorneys said Sanchez-Santiago is facing state prison time. Sentencing is set for July 29.

At the time of the incident, he was in prison on charges including resisting arrest and making terroristic threats, court records state.

-- Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.