Jesus Maldonado-Martinez died of head injuries after being assaulted in his York County Prison cell on Aug. 21, 2011.
Jesus Maldonado-Martinez died of head injuries after being assaulted in his York County Prison cell on Aug. 21, 2011.

A fatal fistfight between two inmates in York County Prison nearly 14 months ago erupted over an apparent lack of manners, charging documents reveal.

Malik James Hayes is accused of fatally beating Jesus Maldonado-Martinez about 1:15 p.m. Aug. 21, 2011, in the victim's jail cell.

Afterward, Hayes told state police the fight started after Maldonado-Martinez bumped into him, charging documents state.

"Hayes told the victim that he should have said 'excuse me,'" documents state.

At that point, Maldonado-Martinez told Hayes he "wasn't playing," and Hayes replied he, too, was serious.

The confrontation ended when the Maldonado-Martinez invited Hayes to meet him in his (the victim's) cell during recreation time, police said.

No words: When most inmates went outside for recreation time, Hayes went to Maldonado-Martinez's cell and the men "started exchanging punches without saying a word to each other," documents state.

Hayes said he threw the last punch, which landed on the right side of Maldonado-Martinez's face, at which point the victim had labored breathing and said he was done fighting, according to documents.

A witness to the fight told police the last three punches thrown by Hayes went "unanswered" by the victim. That witness also said that at the end of the fight, Maldonado-Martinez's head hit the wall and he fell onto a metal table, documents state.

Other inmates alerted a guard.


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The prison's medical staff did CPR after determining the victim wasn't breathing and had no pulse, and he was rushed to the hospital, police said.

Head trauma: Maldonado-Martinez, 22, formerly of Hill Street in Spring Garden Township, was pronounced dead at Memorial Hospital about an hour after the fight, according to the York County Coroner's Office.

An autopsy determined he died of head trauma suffered during the assault, according to the coroner's office, which has ruled his death a homicide.

Hayes was a state prison inmate being held in York County Prison due to overcrowding in the state prison system.

The 24-year-old will be charged with the second-degree felony of assault by a prisoner and the first-degree misdemeanor of voluntary manslaughter. Formerly of Philadelphia, he is currently an inmate at the state prison in Camp Hill.

Police filed the charges on Tuesday, according to court records. Hayes must be transported back to York County Prison before he can be arraigned on the charges, according to the office of District Judge Barry Bloss Jr.

Not murder: York County District Attorney Tom Kearney said Hayes wasn't charged with murder because the facts of the case don't fit that crime.

"We contend that the conduct in that altercation ... was basically reckless conduct," he said. "Murder requires malice, which has a specific legal meaning, and that legal meaning has to do with cruelty, hardness of heart and wickedness of disposition. Our view was this fight didn't rise to that level. This was a fight between two people that resulted in a death."

Kearney said it took time to do a full investigation.

"The injuries, on the surface, appeared to be superficial. We therefore needed some time to ensure there was a nexus between the injuries and the death," he said. "We wanted to be sure of our facts."

The victim: Born in Puerto Rico, Maldonado-Martinez came to York County in the mid-1990s, according to court records. He dropped out of school in 11th grade, records state.

He was serving a 332-day sentence for probation violations, according to court records.

Maldonado-Martinez pleaded guilty in June 2011 to marijuana possession with intent to deliver, records state. As part of a plea agreement, he was sentenced to three to 23 months in county prison.

The sentence stemmed from a February 2011 police raid at a home in the 200 block of Penn Street, where York City Police found Maldonado-Martinez, 45 grams of marijuana and various drug-packaging paraphernalia, according to charging documents.

That conviction caused a York County common pleas judge to order Maldonado-Martinez back to county prison on probation violations in two previous cases.

Two prior cases: In December 2009, a York County detective arrested Maldonado-Martinez for stealing a car he planned to strip for parts, charging documents state.

In July 2010, he pleaded guilty to theft and a chop-shop related charge, and was sentenced to 11-1/2 to 23 months in county prison, records state.

York County Common Pleas Judge John S. Kennedy ordered that Maldonado-Martinez spend 332 days in prison for violating his probation in that case.

The judge also ordered Maldonado-Martinez to serve a concurrent 11 months in prison for violating his probation in a 2007 domestic assault case, which happened in Dallastown, records state.

According to charging documents, he punched and hit a former girlfriend and her sister. He pleaded guilty to simple assault in that case and was given a time-served sentence of 61 days, records state.

Hayes' record: Hayes also has a criminal record, including guilty pleas to charges of robbery and burglary for cases in Philadelphia. He's currently serving a 7-1/2- to 15-year sentence for robbery, according to court records.

Between 2006 and 2008 Hayes was charged in Philadelphia with numerous offenses including robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, unlawful restraint/serious bodily injury, making terroristic threats and carrying a firearm in public.

Court records indicate no resolution in those cases.

-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at levans@yorkdispatch.com.