Jury rejects death row inmates' lawsuit - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Jury rejects death row inmates' lawsuit

CLEVELAND (AP) - A federal jury has rejected the claims of three death row inmates who said guards beat them during a 1997 riot.

Jurors deliberated about seven hours this week before handing down verdicts in favor of the guards to U.S. District Judge Donald Nugent.

A juror said they did not believe the officers used excessive force during the riot at the Mansfield Correctional Institution.

Inmates Jason Robb, Ronald Combs and George Skatzes testified via video during the two-week trial that guards had violated their civil rights.

"These guys were sentenced to death. They weren't sentenced to beatings after they were handcuffed," said John Juhasz, the inmates' attorney.

Carol O'Brien and Kelley Sweeney of the Ohio attorney general's office said the inmates were beaten by other prisoners, who made weapons out of padlocks, pens and knives.

The riot took place Sept. 5, 1997, after inmates overpowered guards in a death row cell block. Within minutes, inmates set out to destroy the prison, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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