Delaware Public Media

16 face murder charges in Vaughn prison riot

Oct 17, 2017

18 individuals involved in the riot at the Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna earlier this year now face criminal charges.

 

16 have been charged with first degree murder for their role in the February uprising which resulted in the death of corrections officer Lieutenant Steven Floyd.

All charged are currently incarcerated and have been since the incident.

Delaware’s Department of Justice announced the indictments, which were handed down Monday by a New Castle County Grand Jury and initially were sealed by the court.  When the investigation started, officials has said all 120 inmates in Building C during the incident were considered suspects.

 

“This was an extremely important and time-consuming investigation that involved unique challenges," said Attorney General Matt Denn in a statement. "I appreciate the police and prosecutors’ focus on ensuring that justice is done for the victims in this case and their families.”​​

Delaware Correctional Officers Association President Geoff Klopp says he’s glad progress in being made in the case.

“We’re pleased that the Department of Justice has filed indictments in the murder of Steven Floyd and the senseless assault of other correctional officers," said Klopp. "We sit back and let the judicial system work. It’s not a perfect system but it is a very good one.”

The riot also resulted injuries to Officers Winslow Smith and Joshua Wilkinson and the kidnapping of counselor Patricia May.  The 16 inmates charged with murder also face face assault, kidnapping, riot and conspiracy charges.  The two not charged with murder face charges of  kidnapping, riot and conspiracy.

 

Gov. John Carney (D-Delaware) reacted to the charges in a statement.

 

“It is my hope that the indictments announced on Tuesday will be a step toward justice for Lieutenant Floyd and provide some measure of peace for his family, and all of the victims of the events on February 1 and February 2,” said Carney in his statement. “As we have said since February, we will remain focused on taking action necessary to improve safety and security inside James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, and across Delaware's correctional facilities.”

Reverend Christopher Bullock is the Chairman of the Delaware Coalition for Prison Reform and Justice.  He says he hopes changes come along with the charges.

 

“I think the Governor’s appointment of Judge Chapman former Attorney General Charlie Oberly--their work has largely identified some of the major issues that led to the revolt. The second step now is to implement these recommendations,” said Bullock.

 

The full list of charges announced are below:

 

Sixteen individuals each charged with three counts of Murder 1st Degree (intentional murder, felony murder, and recklessly causing death of a correctional officer); two counts of Assault 1st Degree (a count each regarding C.O. Smith and C. O. Wilkinson); four counts of Kidnapping 1st Degree (a count each for Lt. Floyd, C.O. Smith, C.O. Wilkinson and counselor May); one count of Riot; and one count of Conspiracy 2nd Degree (for conspiring to commit Riot):

  • Jarreau Ayers, age 36 – currently serving a life sentence for Murder 1st Degree and other charges
  • Abednego Baynes, age 25 – currently serving 18 years for Murder 2nd Degree
  • Kevin Berry, age 27 – currently serving 14 years for three counts of Robbery 1st Degree and other charges 
  • John Bramble, age 28 – currently serving 40 years for Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, Assault Second Degree, Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited, Possession of Ammunition by a Person Prohibited, and Home invasion
  • Abdul-Haqq El-Qadeer, aka Louis Sierra, age 31 – currently serving a life sentence for Murder 1st Degree
  • Deric Forney, age 28 – currently serving 11 years for Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony, Possession of a Firearm By a Person Prohibited and drug charges
  • Kelly Gibbs, age 29 – currently serving 24 years 9 month sentence for Murder 2nd Degree
  • Robert Hernandez, age 36 – an inmate from New Mexico serving a 16-year sentence for Murder 2nd Degree in that state 
  • Janiis Mathis, age 25 – currently serving 15 years for Assault 2nd Degree and other charges
  • Lawrence Michaels, age 31 – currently serving 19 years for Kidnapping 1st Degree, Attempted Robbery 1st Degree, Possession of a Firearm during Commission of a Felony and other charges
  • Obadiah Miller, age 25 – currently serving 10 years for Manslaughter and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony
  • Jonatan Rodriguez, age 25 – currently serving 40 years for Manslaughter and other charges
  • Alejandro Rodriguez-Ortiz, age 27 - currently serving 40 years for Manslaughter and other charges
  • Roman Shankaras, age 30 – currently serving 7 years for Riot and two counts of Robbery 1st
  • Corey Smith, age 32 – currently serving 14 years for a Violation of Probation for Possession of a Deadly Weapon by a Person Prohibited, Violation of Probation for Carrying a Concealed Deadly Weapon, Attempted Robbery First Degree, Assault Second Degree, Promoting Prison Contraband
  • Dwayne Staats, age 35 – currently serving a life sentence for Murder 1st Degree

Two other individuals are each charged with:four counts of Kidnapping 1st Degree (a count each for Lt. Floyd, C.O. Smith, C.O. Wilkinson and counselor May); one count of Riot; and one count of Conspiracy 2nd Degree (for conspiring to commit Riot):

  • Pedro Chairez, age 42 - an inmate from Arizona serving a 43-year sentence for Murder 2nd and other charges committed in that state 
  • Royal Downs, age 52 – an inmate from Maryland serving a life sentence for Murder 1st Degree and other charges committed in that state