New evidence found in 2017 Vaughn prison riot

SMYRNA — Two weapons potentially connected to the Feb. 1, 2017, riot that left correctional officer Lt. Steven Floyd dead were recently discovered, according to homicide crime scene investigator Cpl. Roger Cresto.

The new evidence was mentioned Tuesday morning during the cross-examination of Cpl. Cresto in the ongoing trial to determine the fate of Roman Shankaras — one of the inmates accused of perpetrating the riot at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, the state’s maximum security prison.

Roman Shankaras

Upon questioning, Cpl. Cresto noted that a metal rod and a 9 1/2-inch “shank” were sent to the Delaware Division of Forensic Science for analysis sometime in mid-April. The new evidence was found by DOC personnel “going through C Building (the site of the riot)” and removing toilets from the cells.

When asked by Shankaras’s defense attorney Patrick Collins, Cpl. Cresto said he didn’t believe forensic results had been returned yet regarding the weapons.

Earlier in April, a DOC spokesperson confirmed that maintenance staff have begun to strip C Building in preparation for its demolition, but didn’t comment on the existence of new evidence.

When asked directly about the new evidence in April, a DOJ spokesman said, “We will continue to not comment on a pending trial.”

Though the original indictments against inmates charged in connection with the riot were announced back in October 2017, prosecutors have long maintained that the investigation was still “ongoing.” Charges were announced initially against 18 inmates for their alleged connection to the riot. Since then, seven have stood trial, one accepted a plea deal, one killed himself in prison, charges were dropped against six and three — including Shankaras — have pending trials.

Staff writer Ian Gronau can be reached at 741-8272 or igronau@newszap.com

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