Inmate IDs 'ringleader' of alleged 'fight club' in York County Prison
A former inmate testified Thursday that then-York County Prison guard Daniel Graff was the ringleader of an inmate "fight club" and "retard olympics," antics he said were held inside the supply closet in South Block back in 2013.
Graff is on trial this week in York County Court with co-defendants David Whitcomb Jr. and Mark Haynes, all former prison guards charged with official oppression and conspiracy to commit that offense.
Anthony Gray, a former inmate, told jurors that he worked as a hall monitor in South Block, so he had more freedom to move around than regular inmates.
"Childish games were played and taken to an extreme," he said.
He said he saw Graff "choke out" inmate James Hicks Jr., who previously testified he was a willing participant in the stunts and did it for extra food.
Gray said he saw Whitcomb give "dead legs" to both Hicks and and inmate David Wright. Testimony indicated the term means hitting someone so hard in the leg that it goes numb.
He said he also saw guards bribe inmates to wrestle each other, drink water laced with pepper spray and perform other stunts.
"It was cruel, unusual punishment toward people," Gray said. "It shouldn't have been done."
Gray testified that a couple days after he gave a statement to prison captains about the goings-on in South Block, Graff called him out to fellow inmates.
"Mr. Daniel Graff ... yelled through the pod, 'He's a snitch,'" Gray told jurors. "Even a small statement like that could put me in physical harm."
Senior deputy prosecutor Kelley Nelson called current York County Prison guard Shane Druck to the stand regarding Gray's claim, but he wasn't questioned. Instead, she read a stipulation to jurors that included Druck's written statement about the encounter:
"I heard corrections officer Graff yell into South Block about inmate Gray being a snitch."
Gray maintains Graff called him names including racial, religious and sexual slurs, as well as "Taliban."
Former inmate Joseph Irizarry testified Thursday he saw Graff and Haynes watching as inmates Wright and Hicks wrestled each other.
"Graff was like, 'Go ahead, boys' — like they were his little minions," Irizarry said.
Nelson rested her case Thursday afternoon, and the defense attorneys are expected to begin their cases Friday morning.
Whitcomb, 30, of Hellam Township, Haynes, 28, of Jacobus, and Graff, 40, of York, no longer work for York County, a county spokesman has said.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.