Jury deliberations continue Monday in prison guard’s trial

The jury in the trial of a corrections officer accused of using excessive force against an unruly inmate will continue deliberations Monday in County Court.

A verdict was not reached Friday for the case of Michael A. Wehby, 51, of 171 Bouck Road, Frankfort, Herkimer County, charged with second-degree assault, attempted second-degree assault and third-degree assault. If convicted, the 24-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office and the Frankfort Police Department, where he works part-time, faces seven years in state prison.

The first witnesses in Wehby’s trial before Judge Michael L. Dwyer took the stand on Tuesday. There are six men and six women serving on the jury.

According to the prosecution, Wehby was mocking 45-year-old inmate Jose Rivera in the mess hall at Mid-State on Jan. 15, 2010, because Rivera has to wear a protective helmet to keep him safe when he suffers a seizure. Hameline said Rivera told Wehby to stop, and continued to talk back when Wehby started pulling Rivera out of the cafeteria line.

Hameline said Wehby then took Rivera out of the mess hall into a nearby alcove and started beating him.

Defense Attorney Michael E. Daley agreed that the case was about "accountability," but that the victim, Rivera, and the state Inspector General’s Office should be held accountable, not Wehby. Daley described Rivera as "violent outside of prison, which caused him to go to prison repeatedly," and Rivera "is a violent individual inside of prison," with many disciplinary actions taken against him for causing trouble." He said Rivera has spent much of his adult life behind bars. Daley also said the Inspector General’s Office did a bad job in investigating the incident, because they failed to talk to all the witnesses and did not account for the injuries that Wehby and the other officers involved suffered.