Guard controlled
violent inmate
but did not kill him,
lawyer says

By Debra Barayuga

Halawa inmate Antonio Revera was known to corrections officers as psychotic, violent, with a history of biting people and banging his head against concrete walls, said the attorney for the prison guard on trial for manslaughter in the inmate's death.

So when adult corrections officer Brian Freitas walked into a holding room and saw Revera being held down by the arms and legs by other corrections officers but no one holding his head, he took control, his public defender William Jameson said during opening statements yesterday.

Freitas grabbed hold of Revera's head, forced it sideways to help clear the contents of his mouth, which was full of vomit, and instructed the nurses to clean him up, Jameson said.

Only when he felt Revera twitch did Freitas allegedly push his head back down two or three times on the concrete slab and order him not to move, Jameson said.

Freitas, 37, is on trial before Circuit Judge Sandra Simms for manslaughter, accused of recklessly causing Revera's death in April 1998. Revera was serving a 10-year sentence for a rape and kidnapping conviction.

Deputy Prosecutor Alfred Brunn said Revera, 26, died as a result of Freitas slamming his head repeatedly against a concrete table.

Brunn said Revera was semiconscious after nurses injected him with a sedative referred to as a "Haldol cocktail" and was not resisting when Freitas walked in.

Freitas was aware that Revera had earlier bitten a sergeant while being escorted, resulting in six corrections officers "taking him down" after a violent struggle.

Brunn said witnesses will testify they saw Freitas lift Revera's head up by the hair and turn it to the side before punching him in the mouth, saying he was not going to bite anyone anymore.

Freitas then slammed Revera's head at least three times on the concrete slab, Brunn said.

After Revera had been cleaned up, he was returned to a special holding cell where he was observed every 10 minutes, Brunn said. But less than two hours later, when a nurse went to attempt to draw his blood to test for AIDS, Revera was dead.

The medical examiner concluded that Revera died because of trauma to the brain -- suffering the same symptoms as "shaken baby syndrome, in an adult," Brunn said.

Jameson said there will be reasonable doubt as to who actually caused Revera's death.

He said witnesses will testify that the struggle with Revera and six corrections officers after he bit the sergeant was so violent that at one point Revera turned blue and stopped breathing, causing them to believe he was dead.

When the corrections officers and the nurses were later questioned about Revera's death, they told police they did not know what caused it, Jameson said.

Later, two of the six corrections officers who had struggled with Revera told police they believed Freitas was responsible when he slammed Revera's head onto the table. But they did not say anything initially because they did not think that had caused Revera's death, Jameson said.

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