Man gets 45 years for assaulting guard

Published 9:26 pm Monday, July 11, 2011

A Western Tidewater Regional Jail inmate was found guilty Monday of assaulting a correctional officer in the jail in March 2010.

The jury recommended a 45-year sentence Monday for Gary Williams, who admitted during a preliminary hearing that he assaulted the guard to “catch a serious charge” so that he could get into a courtroom and expose wrongdoing by law enforcement officers in general.

Williams attacked the correctional officer with a piece of metal lining from a stairwell in the jail. He had hidden it in his jumpsuit and then used it to assault the officer, who suffered wounds to his head, neck and back that left permanent scars.

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Williams represented himself during the three-day trial. Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Will Jamerson said Williams spent most of the time trying to justify his actions.

“I don’t think the jury was buying what he was selling,” Jamerson said. “It may be justification in his mind, but it’s not legal justification for what he did.”

Williams did get the judge to dismiss the charge of malicious wounding of a law enforcement officer by pointing out that the code section governing that charge (18.2-51.1) defines “law enforcement officer” only as employees of police departments or sheriff’s offices, as well as conservation officers. It does not refer to corrections officers.

Even so, the jury found him guilty of aggravated malicious wounding and shoot, stab, cut or wound. They recommended 40 years for the wounding charge and five years for the other charge.

Williams was originally being held in the jail on federal charges.

His sentencing is set for Sept. 7.