York County Prison
York County Prison

A York County judge upheld two previous rulings he made in the joint case of three York County Prison guards accused of running a "fight club" and "retard olympics" inside the prison.

On Wednesday afternoon, Common Pleas Judge Richard K. Renn heard more argument from senior deputy prosecutor Kelley Nelson about why trial jurors should be allowed to see the prison's training policies and manuals, as well as why they should hear about an internal prison investigation into graffiti being left in the facility.

Nelson alleges the graffiti investigation led authorities to uncover illegal activities involving inmates.

Renn previously ruled neither the training policies nor the graffiti incidents are relevant to the criminal case, and on Wednesday he ruled they are inadmissible at trial.

However, he noted it's possible one piece of evidence in the graffiti case could be admissible — a broken broom handle on which one of the guards allegedly wrote initials and the phrase "inmate be good" stick.

But prosecutors would have to first show a direct link between that stick and the three guards' alleged illegal conduct.

Video at issue: The judge set a hearing date of Oct. 30 to hear argument on a third issue — whether jurors should be allowed to see a short video clip of alleged illegal activity.

Defense attorneys maintain the video should be inadmissible because the prison kept only a several-minute portion of the video and routinely destroyed the rest.


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"If something wasn't saved, there's a reason for that, judge. ... The part that wasn't incriminating is exculpatory," defense attorney Steve Rice argued. He is representing Daniel H. Graff.

Defense attorney Chris Ferro, who represents Mark Andrew Haynes, also told the judge he believes exculpatory evidence existed on the now-destroyed video.

And defense attorney Korey Leslie, representing David Michael Whitcomb, said jurors should see how the guards interacted with inmates throughout the entire day, not just in "a very short snippet."

The background: Whitcomb, 28, of Hellam Township, Haynes, 27, of Jacobus and Graff, 38, of York, all remain free on bail and on unpaid administrative leave as the case makes its way through court. They are charged with official oppression, conspiracy to commit that charge and harassment.

State police said the alleged misconduct included physically assaulting inmates, bribing them to wrestle each other, and bribing them to perform "stupid" challenges such as snorting ramen noodle flavoring powder and drinking a bottle of water that had pepper-spray foam in it.

Police allege the incidents happened between Jan. 30 and July 1, 2013.

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