Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Corrections officer indicted in fatal beating

Woman faces possible capital punishment after death of inmate.


Published: Tuesday, April 1, 2008 at 6:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 31, 2008 at 11:58 p.m.

OCALA - A corrections officer at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Sumter County pleaded not guilty Monday in U.S. District Court to charges relating to the 2005 fatal beating of an inmate.

Erin Sharma, 31, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Orlando on Friday on charges of aiding and abetting in the deprivation of Richard Delano's civil rights and for conspiring in plans to injure or harass the inmate leading to his death.

Both counts could carry a death sentence and up to $250,000 in fines, said U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary Jones during Monday's arraignment.

Jones set a June 2 trial date before U.S. District Judge Terrell Hodges. He also ordered Sharma, who remains free, to relinquish her passport and restrict her travel within the state of Florida during pre-trial investigations.

The government has not yet decided whether it will pursue the death penalty, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel Armstrong, who appeared in court on behalf of federal prosecutor Carolyn Adams.

Jones advised prosecutors to make that decision in a timely manner. "The defendant needs to know what ultimately could be an outcome on conviction because we're talking about the ultimate conviction," he said. "That can certainly hang over the head of the defendant quite heavily."

Sharma, who has no prior convictions and resides in Ocala with her husband, is accused of arranging the transfer of Delano, 40, to the prison cell of John McCullah, an inmate serving a life sentence for murder, in February 2005. Sharma is accused of encouraging McCullah to attack Delano as punishment for a prior altercation she had with Delano. On March 4, 2005, McCullah allegedly assaulted Delano, who died later from his injuries. McCullah, 43, has not been charged.

Mike Nielsen, Sharma's attorney, said it was too early in the discovery phase to comment on the circumstances that led to her indictment.

Sharma is still employed by the Bureau of Prisons but in an administrative capacity, Nielsen said in court. Sharma's husband and mother were present in court for her arraignment.

Jones also arranged for Nielsen's trial partner, Jeff Dowdy, to serve as defense co-counsel in the event Sharma's case becomes prosecuted under the death penalty.

Suevon Lee may be reached at suevon.lee@starbanner.com or 867-4065.

1 comment:

Bobby said...

my brother John McCullah did not murder anyone.the authorities never placed him at the murder site, or confronting a mustogge man. read the transcipts.
About the florida incident,some correctional officers and police or a part of the Blue color Gang.
Blame it all on the Felon, every one needs a scapegoat....
its the oldest trick in history..
Sincerly Bobby W. McCullah