Jury Finds Admitted Mastermind of Delaware Prison Riot Guilty in - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Jury Finds Admitted Mastermind of Delaware Prison Riot Guilty in Correctional Officer's Death

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WILMINGTON, Del.- A jury on Tuesday handed out guilty verdicts on charges connected to the deadly 2017 prison riot at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, though only one inmate was found guilty of murder in the death of a correctional officer.

Dwayne Staats, who represented himself in the case and said on the stand that he was the mastermind behind the Feb. 1, 2017 takeover of a prison building at Vaughn, was found guilty of two counts of first degree murder in the death of Correctional Officer Steven Floyd. He was also found not guilty for intentional murder in Floyd's death.

Jarreau Ayers, who also represented himself in the trial, was found not found guilty of murder in Floyd's death but was found guilty of kidnapping, assault, riot, and conspiracy.

Deric Forney was found not guilty of any of the 11 offenses he was charged with.

The three inmates are the first of more than a dozen inmates to go trial for charges in connection to the inmate uprising. Sixteen inmates, including Ayers, Forney, and Staats were charged with first degree murder in Floyd's death.

"The jury worked very hard, we appreciate their effort, and we will be preparing for the next case," said Prosecutor John Downs.

Delaware Correction Commissioner Perry Phelps said the verdicts would be part of the healing process for staffers within Delaware's correctional department.

“It’ll be one step forward for the DOC family,” he said.

Although Staats, who represented himself in the trial, maintained Floyd's death was not part of the plan, prosecutors argued he was responsible through the state's accomplice liability statute.

"My client's always maintained that he never intended for Sgt. Floyd to die, and I think the jury's decision reflects that," said Peter Veith, the standby counsel for Staats.

Forney's defense attorney, Ben Gifford, said the jury's decision was the right one.

"When you talk about evidence I don't think there was a lot of evidence. I think they considered that reflected in their verdict," he said.

Patrick Collins, the standby counsel for Ayers, declined comment on the outcome of the case beyond a message from the inmate.

"Mr. Ayers asked me to say that he really appreciates the jury's hard work and dedication, and sacrifice in deciding this case, and he just wanted me to pass along his sincere appreciation for that," he said.



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