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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Officer tells court of fatal kicking

Inmate charged in 2005 killing

By Gary V. Murray TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
[email protected]
WORCESTER- A correction officer testified yesterday that Dennis Hadley admitted to him several weeks ago that he twice kicked his cellmate, Daniel McMullen, during a 2005 altercation at the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction in West Boylston.

Mr. Hadley, 52, is on trial in Worcester Superior Court on murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (shod foot) charges in the Feb. 23, 2005, death of the 42-year-old Mr. McMullen. The Douglas resident died at St. Vincent Hospital 20 days after he was allegedly kicked by Mr. Hadley, his cellmate, during an altercation over a deck of playing cards.

Mr. McMullen's death was attributed to complications from a lacerated spleen that was caused by blunt trauma. Prosecutors contend Mr. Hadley inflicted the spleen injury by kicking Mr. McMullen, a charge Mr. Hadley denied when questioned by a jail official on the day of the alleged incident.

Sgt. John Adams of the sheriff's department testified yesterday that Mr. Hadley approached him May 25 at the county jail and asked if he could be moved to a cell other than the one in which he was being housed. Sgt. Adams said Mr. Hadley told him his trial was coming up and he wanted a cell in a quieter section of the maximum-security building where he was being confined.

When told his request would be given due consideration, Mr. Hadley began to walk away, then returned and took a seat next to Sgt. Adams in the day room of the jail's "Maxi C" block, according to Sgt. Adams' testimony.

Sgt. Adams told the jury Mr. Hadley proceeded to give him an unsolicited account of the events that resulted in the charges against him. According to Sgt. Adams, Mr. Hadley told him he and Mr. McMullen got into an argument on the morning of Feb. 3, 2005, after Mr. Hadley took a deck of playing cards belonging to Mr. McMullen.

The correction officer said Mr. Hadley related to him that he stood up and kicked Mr. McMullen in the mouth as Mr. McMullen began moving toward him. Mr. Hadley said he began banging on the door of his cell to get the attention of a correction officer, according to Sgt. Adams.

Sgt. Adams said Mr. Hadley told him Mr. McMullen was trying to get up and he kicked him a second time. The sergeant told the jury he could not recall whether Mr. Hadley said the second kick was to Mr. McMullen's chest or abdomen.

Mr. Hadley said he continued banging on the cell door until correction officers responded and separated the two men.

Sgt. Adams said Mr. Hadley went on to tell him, "very matter-of-factly," that, "They lost my boots anyways, so I'm not too worried."

A pair of boots seized from Mr. Hadley's cell were lost after being turned over to state police investigators, according to testimony in the case.

Under cross-examination by Mr. Hadley's lawyer, Margaret R. Guzman, Sgt. Adams acknowledged that he took no notes while talking with Mr. Hadley and did not inform investigators of the reported conversation until last week.

When questioned by Deputy Sheriff Thomas Chabot on the day of the alleged assault, Mr. Hadley denied kicking Mr. McMullen. Mr. Hadley related in a written statement that he pushed Mr. McMullen down after Mr. McMullen poked him in the eye with his finger.

Dr. Richard Evans, the pathologist who performed the autopsy on Mr. McMullen, testified yesterday that Mr. McMullen had cirrhosis of the liver and an enlarged spleen that was four to five times the size of a normal spleen. The enlargement of the organ made it "more fragile" than a healthy person's and less force would have been required to cause the rupture that was evident at the time of autopsy, the medical examiner said.

Testimony was scheduled to resume today.

That testimony should be a nail in the inmate's coffin!!
 

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Inmate gets 4 to 7 more years

Cellmate died after jail fight

By Gary V. Murray TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
[email protected]

WORCESTER- A jail inmate found guilty of manslaughter in the death of his cellmate three years ago was sentenced yesterday to 4 to 7 years' imprisonment.

Dennis R. Hadley, 52, was charged with murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (shod foot) in the Feb. 23, 2005, death of 42-year-old Daniel McMullen after an altercation in the cell the two men shared at the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction in West Boylston.

A 12-member Worcester Superior Court jury convicted Mr. Hadley of involuntary manslaughter Thursday in the death of Mr. McMullen and acquitted him on the charge of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Judge Peter W. Agnes Jr. sentenced Mr. Hadley to 4 to 7 years in state prison yesterday. Assistant District Attorney Joseph T. Moriarty Jr. recommended a sentence of 12 to 15 years and Mr. Hadley's lawyer, Margaret R. Guzman, proposed a sentence of time served or a 3- to 4-year prison term for her client.

Mr. McMullen, formerly of Douglas, died from complications of a ruptured spleen caused by blunt trauma, according to a medical examiner's findings. Prosecutors alleged that Mr. Hadley, while wearing boots, kicked Mr. McMullen in the face and abdomen on the morning of Feb. 3, 2005, after an argument in their cell over a deck of playing cards.

Mr. Hadley, formerly of Rhode Island, told jail officials he pushed Mr. McMullen down after his cellmate poked him in the eye with his finger. He denied kicking Mr. McMullen.

Mr. McMullen, who was serving a sentence for a probation violation on a drunken driving charge at the time, suffered from advanced cirrhosis of the liver and an enlarged spleen, according to testimony at Mr. Hadley's trial. He was initially treated at St. Vincent Hospital for a cut lip on the morning of the altercation and was returned to the jail. About 15 hours later, he was brought back to the hospital complaining of abdominal pain.

He was admitted at that time after diagnostic tests revealed internal bleeding from a torn spleen. Mr. McMullen developed pneumonia and an infection while hospitalized, lapsed into a coma and died.

Before imposing the 4- to 7-year sentence yesterday, Judge Agnes rejected a suggestion by James Mahoney, the victim's brother-in-law, that Mr. McMullen's death was attributable to "a total system failure" at the county jail. Mr. Mahoney said his family believed overcrowding and understaffing at the jail were as much, if not more, to blame for the death of their loved one than Mr. Hadley's actions.

Mr. Mahoney, a Westminster resident and the husband of Mr. McMullen's sister, Mary Pringle, told the judge that family members were not opposed to a sentence of time served.

"We just want a healing process to begin," he said in a prepared impact statement.

Mr. Mahoney later told a reporter Mr. McMullen's family was considering filing a wrongful death suit. He cited a state regulation that prohibits housing a sentenced inmate with one awaiting trial, as was the case with Mr. Hadley and Mr. McMullen.

Jail officials have defended placing the two men together in a cell, saying they met the same classification criteria and fit the same profiles as nonviolent offenders. They also said crowded conditions made it impossible to house all inmates in single cells.

"Mr. McMullen did not die because of overcrowding at the jail. Mr. McMullen did not die because of understaffing at the jail … He died because of the criminal conduct of Mr. Hadley," Judge Agnes said in response to Mr. Mahoney's comments.

Mr. Moriarty said his sentencing recommendation was based on the facts of the case and Mr. Hadley's criminal record, which included convictions in Massachusetts, Nebraska and California for crimes including resisting arrest, soliciting a prostitute, burglary and attempted escape.

Sentencing guidelines called for a prison term with a top number ranging from 50 to 75 months. The maximum sentence for manslaughter is 20 years' imprisonment.

While Mr. Hadley did not raise a psychiatric defense to the charges against him, he had a history of mental illness and was known to refer to himself as Jesus Christ, Ms.Guzman told the judge.

"He is honestly and sincerely remorseful. This is not an act," Ms. Guzman said as Mr. Hadley sat next to her at the defense table wiping tears from his eyes.

Addressing the court and his victim's family, Mr. Hadley said he felt sorry for Mr. McMullen because of the difficulties he had in jail and tried to befriend him after they became cellmates in J Block, a segregation unit that also housed protective custody inmates, nine days before his death.

"If, in fact, any of my actions contributed to his death, I'm deeply, deeply sorry," Mr. Hadley said.

"I ask for leniency. I'm not a violent man. I've never intentionally hurt anyone," he added.

Mr. Hadley was given credit for 1,259 days he spent in custody awaiting trial and after being convicted. Still pending against him are the burglary charges that led to him being held in custody in lieu of bail in 2005.
 
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