Ex-guard faces
1 year in jail

A judge rules that Brian Freitas
is guilty of third-degree assault
in a prisoner’s death

A former Halawa prison guard who went on trial a second time on a manslaughter charge in the 1998 death of inmate Antonio Revera was found guilty of a misdemeanor assault charge.

Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario concluded Thursday after reviewing transcripts from the first trial in 2003 and other evidence submitted by attorneys in April that Brian Freitas was guilty of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor.

Deputy Prosecutor Russ Uehara said he will ask that Freitas be sentenced to a year in jail when sentenced Nov. 9 because a death resulted from Freitas' actions.

Freitas, who was fired from his job in April 1998 just weeks after the inmate's death, was indicted with manslaughter, punishable by a 20-year prison term. He went to trial in February 2003, but a mistrial was declared after the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

Revera, 26, was serving a 10-year term for a rape and kidnapping conviction when he attacked and bit a prison guard on April 23, 1998, and was subdued by other guards after a violent struggle. Revera was known to the guards as psychotic, violent and for having a history of biting people and banging his head against concrete walls. He was brought to a room where he was injected with a sedative.

Prosecutors maintained Freitas caused Revera's death by grabbing his head and slamming it down repeatedly on a concrete table.

The defense disputed the conclusions by the Honolulu medical examiner that Revera died as a result of a head injury, and hired their own expert to examine the autopsy results.

Deputy public defender Walter Rodby said their expert concluded Revera died as a result of "sudden cardiac arrest" and that he showed no injuries to the back of the head.

The judge found that the conflicting autopsy results and the inconsistent and incomplete testimony by other witnesses created reasonable doubt, Rodby said.

There was also testimony that another prison guard involved in taking Revera down had also struck the inmate and that Revera's head had struck a steel door as the guards tried to put him into a room after the attack, he said.

Freitas, who has since started his own security company after his termination from the Department of Public Safety, is relieved he was not convicted of the harsher charge, but is still upset he was convicted at all, Rodby said.

"Here he is a public servant doing his duty and trying to ensure the safety of the staff and fellow (adult corrections officers), and he gets punished for trying to do his job right," he said.

According to testimony at his first trial, Freitas entered the room where Revera was lying after being injected with a sedative and was being held down by guards.

No one was holding Revera's head and, afraid he might bite someone else, Freitas maintained he grabbed Revera's head and forced it sideways to clear the contents of his mouth, which was full of vomit.

Freitas contends he pushed Revera's head down two or three times when he allegedly felt Revera twitch.

Revera was later taken to a special holding cell where he was found dead two hours later by a nurse who went to draw blood to test for AIDS.

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