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Woman pleads no contest to knocking York County Prison guard unconscious

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

A York City woman who police say assaulted a York County Prison guard, knocking her unconscious, is expected to be released from the jail soon.

The corrections officer was trying to give Susana Sonia Zavala clean blankets, but Zavala somehow felt "disrespected," according to state police.

Zavala appeared in York County Court on Tuesday, where she pleaded no contest to second-degree felony aggravated assault, according to court records.

Defendants who plead no contest, or nolo contendere, aren't admitting guilt. Rather, they are saying they will not contest the charges against them.

In exchange for her plea, lesser charges of simple assault and harassment were dismissed, court records state.

Susana Sonia Zavala

Presiding Common Pleas Judge Gregory M. Snyder sentenced Zavala to a county prison term of a year minus a day to two years minus two days and gave her credit for the 760 days she's already spent locked up, records state.

Snyder ordered Zavala, 27, previously of Jefferson Avenue, to undergo a mental-health evaluation and to comply with any recommended treatment.

The judge said Zavala cannot be released until after county probation officers determine a parole plan for her, which would include a stable residence.

The assault: A corrections officer doing a security check went into Zavala's prison cell about 9:30 a.m. Jan. 6, 2019, after noticing bloodstains on the the inmate's blanket, according to court documents filed by state police.

The officer asked Zavala if she was menstruating and brought clean blankets into the cell, police said.

Zavala ripped the blankets from her and threw them on the floor, then came after the her, according to police.

As the guard reached for her radio to call for help, Zavala grabbed it, tossed it away and started punching the officer in the face, court documents state.

Zavala grabbed the officer by the hair, threw her to the floor and slammed her head onto the floor several times, knocking her out, police said.

Another inmate summoned help, and it took several correctional officers to pull their co-worker from Zavala's grasp, according to police.

Zavala later told a state trooper she felt "disrespected," court documents state.

Seventeen days after the attack, a York County spokesperson said the assaulted officer was back on the job.

Hospital attack: Also on Tuesday, Zavala pleaded no contest to aggravated assault in a separate case in which a York Hospital employee was assaulted.

York City Police said Zavala assaulted a psychiatric technician there in July 2018.

Zavala was locked up in lieu of bail on that case when she attacked the prison officer, police have said.

Kyle King, spokesperson for the York County District Attorney's Office, said Zavala entered no-contest pleas as "a result of (her) mental state at the time of the offenses."

Kathryn Bellfy, Zavala's public defender, did not return a phone message seeking comment.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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