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MAHONING COUNTY JAIL After a turbulent stay, officials transfer Batcho



Published: Fri, August 17, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Authorities said Batcho intimidated guards as well as other county jail inmates.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A Campbell man deemed too unruly to be kept in the Mahoning County Jail has been shipped to a state penitentiary while he awaits his murder trial.

Mark A. Batcho, 34, was quietly transferred out of the county lockup early Wednesday and taken to the state prison at Lorain, said Sheriff Randall Wellington.

While the transfer went without incident, Batcho's yearlong stay in the jail was tumultuous and often violent, with Batcho frequently running afoul of the jail staff.

"It was just constant," Wellington said.

Batcho is already serving an 18-year prison term for trying to kill Prosecutor Paul Gains in December 1996, a week before Gains took office, and for wounding Atty. Gary Van Brocklin.

Awaiting other trial: He was brought to the county jail in August 2000 to await trial on unrelated charges of aggravated murder, murder, aggravated robbery and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity in connection with the slaying of Boardman businessman Lawrence Sisman.

According to court records, the trial was to have begun in October 2000, but was postponed until March 2001. That date was also postponed and the trial is set for January 2002.

Rather than let him wait out his time here, jail officials asked Visiting Judge Stephen A. Yarbrough to order Batcho's transfer back to the penitentiary until the trial date is closer.

About assaults: Maj. Michael Budd of the sheriff's department said Batcho is a "predatory incarcerate" who preys on weaker inmates and especially on homosexuals. The assaults were often violent and at least once resulted in criminal charges being lodged against Batcho, Budd said.

"He is just more or less a bully," Wellington said.

For the last two weeks of his stay in the jail, Batcho was kept in near-constant solitary confinement.

Batcho's intimidation sometimes extended to deputies who were reluctant to treat him as sternly as they should have, Budd said.

"It's a phenomenon of jail life," he said. "People like that become institutionalized and just take over the cell range and everyone in it."

Kept quiet about transfer: Deputies kept word of Batcho's impending transfer quiet because of the security risks he poses, Budd said.

"I'm sure there are people out there who would like to see him dead, and he is an escape risk as well," Budd said.

Batcho also got into trouble while incarcerated in the Medina County Jail for about five months last year, said Lt. David Baker, jail administrator. He was lodged there while participating as a witness in mob-related criminal cases in U.S. District Court, Cleveland.

In July 2000, Batcho became enraged and began throwing things around his cell range, including a glass plate window from a microwave oven.

Baker said he doesn't know what incited Batcho, who threatened two jail guards with plastic racks on which letter tiles are displayed in the board game Scrabble. He was eventually subdued with pepper spray and placed in lock-down for 25 days.

bjackson@vindy.com




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