Wed | Nov 22, 2017

Delaware indicts 18 inmates in deadly prison riot

Published:Wednesday | October 18, 2017 | 12:00 AM
The James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna, Delaware, remains on lockdown following a riot.

DOVER, Delaware. (AP)

Sixteen inmates have been charged with first-degree murder and assault, and face life in prison if convicted in the death of a corrections officer during February's riot at Delaware's maximum-security lock-up.

The indictment announced yesterday also charges 18 inmates in all with kidnapping, riot and conspiracy in the uprising, during which three guards and a female counselor were taken hostage in a standoff that lasted nearly 20 hours.

"This was an extremely important and time-consuming investigation that involved unique challenges." Attorney General Matt Denn said in a statement announcing Monday's indictment by a New Castle County grand jury. "I appreciate the police and prosecutors' focus on ensuring that justice is done for the victims in this case and their families."

Police and prosecutors will have no further comment because the investigation continues and court rules bar prosecutors from discussing criminal matters ahead of trial, the Delaware Department of Justice statement said.

The indictment itself revealed no details: It does not explain specifically what these 18 men allegedly did, nor show how authorities identified them as the responsible inmates.

Outrage over the death of Lt Steven Floyd prompted state House lawmakers to vote this year to reinstate Delaware's death penalty, but the effort died in the Senate, so the most severe punishment they can get is life without parole.

All of those charged are currently in Delaware prisons. Eleven are already doing time for murder or manslaughter. Four are already serving life sentences.