News Tyrone Daily Herald Archives

Shaw found guilty on criminal counts stemming from 2006 prison guard assault

Convicted child killer Nathan Shaw was already set to spend the rest of his natural life behind bars in a state penitentiary.
Friday, a jury added to that sentence, finding him guilty on several criminal counts, stemming from an assault on a prison guard that took place at the Blair County Prison while he awaited trial for murdering a young Tyrone boy.
The verdict was rendered just over three hours after the jury of 12 entered deliberations.
“This is what we wanted,” said Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio following the verdict that could add another 10-20 years to Shaw’s already lifelong sentence. “We wanted justice for Officer (Robert) Miller and to send a message that these types of attacks in prison will not be tolerated.
“We got the aggravated assault conviction we were looking for.”
Shaw, 27, formerly of Tyrone, was convicted Friday of one felony count of aggravated assault for causing “bodily injury” to county prison corrections officer Miller, along with several other counts, including a felony count of assault by a prisoner, one count of simple assault, one count of reckless endangerment, one count of harassment and four counts of disorderly conduct. The two felony charges, according to Consiglio, each carry a maximum sentence of 5-10 years.
Shaw was one of three who testified in the second day of his two-day trial. The prosecution wrapped its case first thing with another medical expert who examined Miller following his beating.
Shaw was the key witness for the defense, and he gave an account of the Sept. 11, 2006, brawl on “C Block” that contradicted just about everything Officer Miller and roughly 10 other witnesses testified to the day before.
“I was there (Blair County Prison) for eight months,” Shaw said. “I got along with almost every CO (corrections officer) there, but Officer Miller and a few other guards made it rough on me.
“They called me names and made things hard to deal with; it was a rough eight months.”
Shaw said on the day of the incident, he had been asking “all day long” for a mop to clean up his cell, the floor of which he said was covered with water after some plumbing work had been performed. He said his requests for a mop were repeatedly ignored and that he had “tapped on the glass” separating C Block from the vestibule where Miller was stationed to try to raise his attention.
Thursday, Miller and two other guards on duty that day testified that Shaw was unruly, was screaming obscenities and was pounding on the glass with a plastic cup, even after he was told to be patient and that he would be provided a mop.
Shaw went on to say that Miller, who Shaw accused of bullying him during his stay at Blair County Prison, became irate and entered the cell block, “shoving” Shaw toward his cell.
“I became upset,” Shaw said. “I figure, if someone pushes me, that gives me the right to respond.
“I told him to keep his hands off of me but he kept coming at me. I shouldn’t have, but I turned around and punched him.
“I thought he was gonna beat me up.”
Shaw said that was the only time he struck Officer Miller, stating that he “did whatever could be done” to protect his face from multiple blows being delivered by Miller. Testimony given by witnesses during Thursday’s court session was contradictory to Shaw’s account. Those who saw the attack, including Miller, stated that the security guard continued to try and restrain Shaw while the inmate punched Miller over and over.
At one point, Shaw said that Miller “fell into the steel bars of a cell” which probably caused the injuries to his face and nose. Expert testimony from two doctors who treated Miller suggested that Miller’s severely broken nose and lacerated head were the result of “multiple blows, most likely punches.”
“I never intended for that to happen,” Shaw said of Miller’s extensive injuries, a remark eerily reminiscent of testimony he delivered during his January murder trial. Then, Shaw said he “never meant to hurt Jared,” referring to six-year-old Jared Klein, the son of Shaw’s ex-girlfriend. Shaw was convicted of killing Jared with a kitchen knife the day after Christmas 2005.
Shaw also stated that Miller and three other guards who responded to an “all call code red” alert “kicked him over and over” while he was on the floor of the cell and that they only stopped when a prison sergeant arrived.
Interestingly, Officer Miller suffered multiple lacerations to the head and face; one on his forehead that required 11 staples to repair; and a severely broken nose while Shaw, when examined immediately after the fracas, has only minor bruises and one small cut on his back.
The defense also called former Blair County Prison inmate Dennis Beckwith to the stand in an attempt to paint Officer Miller as a rogue prison guard who antagonized inmates for the sake of doing it.
DA Consiglio seemed to make short work of Beckwith’s testimony, pointing out to the jury that Beckwith was a multiple offender who had a history of engaging corrections officers and police officers in physical confrontations.
Shaw will likely be sentenced within two weeks. The defense made a request that he be lodged at Blair County Prison until the sentencing so he wouldn’t have to be transported back and forth from the state penitentiary where he’s serving his life sentence. Consiglio indicated that prison officials in Hollidaysburg “don’t want Shaw in their facility any longer than is necessary.”