More inmate witnesses testify about prison riot defendants’ actions

WILMINGTON — Apparent contradictory statements were part of the testimony Friday as the Vaughn prison insurrection murder trial concluded its second week.

Two inmates called by the prosecution identified defendants Jarreau Ayers and Dwayne Staats and their alleged actions during a revolt on Feb. 1-2, 2017, that left Correctional Officer Lt. Steven Floyd dead at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna.

While Richard McCane claimed on Friday to see a masked Staats move quickly by his cell with bloody clothing and disposing gloves in a trash can as the riot unfolded, his statement to investigators last year described a mirror being used to make the observation.

McCane said Friday that his initial description was a “mistake.”

Also, McCane said he was misquoted in a transcript that pointed to bloody clothing being thrown away and asserted Friday the clothing had been thrown in “a” not “our” cell.

He identified Staats by the cell he entered not by his face, according to testimony, and also said other people entered other cells at the time.

Jarreau Ayers

Larry Sartin initially did not give investigators any names in the aftermath of the takeover. He explained that a “persistent” effort by the state to gain information from him eventually led to divulging more information. He confirmed Friday his allegation that Ayers had called him into the C Building as the riot continued.

Sartin said he was “called out” several times by investigators, which concerned him because “everyone watches you, how long you leave, when you come back.”

McCane testified to hearing Lt. Floyd tell two masked inmates controlling him that he recognized their voices and “I know who you are … when I’m done with you you’ll never get out of jail.”

Also, Sartin recalled Lt. Floyd calling out a Code 1 emergency as the uprising began.

Ayers, Staats and Deric Forney are all charged with first-degree murder and being tried together. The trial day concluded at 4:30 p.m. Friday at a juror’s request and will open again Monday at 10 a.m. More inmate witnesses are expected and prosecutors indicated hope to wrap up their presentation by Friday.

Lt. Floyd was attacked and was hit repeatedly with a weapon, according to McCane’s testimony.

Dwayne Staats

Another testifying inmate — Wade Smith — confirmed his belief that Ayers was a “shot caller” in determining who could leave the riot area in the midst of the incident, among others. While Ayers never specifically told Smith he couldn’t leave, according to the inmate, Smith believed he was not free to go and Ayers was allegedly stalling for time.

The witness also said he never saw Ayers assault anyone, wear a mask, handle a weapon or put hands on any person.

According to McCane, a correctional officer new to the building was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher early in the melee and said “I think I’m going to pass out, I think I’m going to pass out.” According to the inmate “Once they hit him there was no need to do anything, he was done.”

Another officer was on the floor and was hit by a mop by hooded attackers he could not identify.

McCane said as the “chaos” began he locked himself into his cell because “I pretty much was scared out of my wits. … I (didn’t) know these people and they could have been coming after me.”

Based on the arms of the attackers, McCane believed he “saw one white guy (who was kicking an officer) and the rest appeared to be dark skinned.”

An officer was forced into a cell, joined by 15 to 20 inmates according to McCane, and forced to yell out a window that “Everyone was OK.” The inmates wanted the water and phone service be turned back on, he said.

 

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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