News Tyrone Daily Herald Archives

Shaw on trial for allegedly assaulting Blair County corrections officer

On Sept. 11, 2006, as the nation was observing the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America, now-convicted child killer Nathan Shaw, 27, Tyrone, was in a Blair County jail cell awaiting his trial for the brutal knife murder of six-year-old Tyrone boy Jared Klein.
At about 2 p.m. that day, Shaw was in need of a mop. Due to a “plumbing issue”, there was water on the floor of his Hollidaysburg prison cell and, according to corrections officers on duty, Shaw was told he would get the mop to clean his cell.
Moments later, however, Shaw allegedly attacked Blair County corrections officer Robert Miller, repeatedly punching him in the face, an action that resulted in an “all-call code red” during which, dozens of guards were summoned to C Block where the exchange took place. Prison officials say Shaw was restrained by Miller and others within minutes; however Miller was badly injured, with a huge gash in his forehead and a broken nose, the result of the alleged attack.
Thursday, Blair County Judge Timothy Sullivan presided over Shaw’s latest criminal trial and a jury of seven men and five women heard testimony from a “cattle call” of guards who were on duty the day of the alleged attack, along with two medical expert witnesses who treated the guard. Shaw, who’s now serving a life sentence without parole for Klein’s day-after-Christmas killing in 2005, is being charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, assault by a prisoner and reckless endangerment.
Shaw’s court-appointed attorney, Theodore Krol, indicated, while Shaw admits to “much of what’s being claimed,” that he will seek to prove that Miller “bullied” the accused and that Shaw acted in self defense.
Officer Miller was the first witness for the prosecution, describing the events of the day in question. The corrections officer said Shaw was using a cup to “beat on the glass” separating C Block from a vestibule where Miller was stationed. He said Shaw was “screaming” obscenities; “something about needing a mop,” and when Miller entered the block to address Shaw’s behavior, Shaw “sucker punched” him in the nose with a “closed fist.” Miller said he attempted to subdue Shaw by grasping Shaw by the shoulders of his orange jumpsuit. He then said he forced Shaw into the shower area of the block, at which time Shaw “continued to come at” Miller.
Miller said after being struck in the nose, things became “fuzzy” and he had trouble remembering all of the details of the encounter, but recalled that as they struggled, they ended up in a cell, where Miller said he was able to restrain Shaw on a bunk until help arrived. Miller testified that, prior to the arrival of other guards, Shaw “continued to punch” him in the head repeatedly as blood streamed from the correction officer’s face.
Numerous other officers corroborated Miller’s account, including control room operator Frank Roberts, who witnessed the encounter and was the one who put out the “all call code red” for assistance.
“Before the attack, Shaw was banging a cup against the glass, screaming, I need a f***ing mop,” Roberts testified. “Officer Miller entered the block to try to calm Mr. Shaw down and to let him know that a mop was coming.
“That’s when Mr. Shaw attacked him.”
Dr. David Higgins, the nose, ear and throat specialist who treated Miller following the attack, testified that the injuries Miller suffered were consistent with a hard punch to the face. He described the severity of the injuries to Miller’s nose, explaining that it was “pushed to the right” and there were “extensive internal injuries” that required a great deal of surgery.
“These injuries were much more severe than a typical broken nose,” Dr. Higgins said. “I see this type of injury maybe once or twice a year. Officer Miller’s injuries were consistent with ones caused by multiple blows.”
The gash on Miller’s forehead required 11 staples and he still has a sizable scar.
In a strange twist, following lunch break and prior to the jury’s return, Shaw addressed the court, stating that, as he was leaving the courtroom, he looked out a courthouse window and saw a female juror speaking to a member of murder victim Klein’s family, many of whom were in attendance at Thursday’s proceedings. Shaw’s testimony, an apparent attempt to force a mistrial, was quickly contradicted by a reporter for The Daily Herald who was covering the trial. The reporter, who had exited the courthouse with Klein’s family, testified that at no time did any jurors approach any of Jared’s family.
After interviewing the juror, Judge Sullivan allowed her to remain. Day two of Shaw’s trial resumes today as the prosecution, led by Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio, has one more witness to call. The defense will then get its chance to rebuff, and Shaw is expected to take the stand in his own defense.