Hooded prisoner admonished, pleads guilty


By John W. Goodwin Jr.

The man appeared in court shackled and wearing a hooded mask.

YOUNGSTOWN — An inmate at the Ohio State Penitentiary convicted of assaulting multiple prison guards will spend some additional time behind bars.

Michael Jones, 24, currently incarcerated at the Coitsville Hubbard Road correctional facility, pleaded guilty to 15 felony counts of acts against prison guards including harassment with bodily fluid, intimidation, felonious assault and assault. He will be sentenced Aug. 13.

Jones appeared Monday before Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of the Mahoning County Common Pleas Court strapped to a two-wheeled, wheelchairlike device wearing an orange jumpsuit with a netted hood over his head. Guards from the prison stood on all four sides and deputy sheriffs stood at attention only feet away.

In the audience sat several other guards from the prison taking in the proceedings.

Judge Krichbaum told Jones it is shameful the court has to address him shackled and hooded, but he understands the necessity given Jones’ history of violence against guards and officers — something the judge said he does not take lightly.

“Hopefully, next time you come to court, this will not be necessary,” he said.

The judge explained to Jones that the actual maximum punishment for the 15 crimes with which he is charged is 34 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

J. Michael Thompson, an assistant county prosecutor said the prosecutor’s office, in exchange for Jones’ guilty plea, will recommend a 15-year sentence. The court does not have to follow that sentencing recommendation, however.

Any sentence would be served consecutive to the 14-year sentence Jones is currently serving for assault, felonious assault and intimidation. Jones also will be subjected to a mandatory three-year parole period once he is released from prison on the charges.

The sentencing recommendation from the prosecutor’s office made the judge question the decision in relation to another act of intimidation, this one against the judge.

In 2005, a man called Judge Krichbaum from the county jail and threatened the judge’s life and that of his wife. The judge questioned how the prosecutor’s office could recommend shock probation in that case and recommend 15 years for Jones.

Judge Krichbaum said the 15-year recommendation may be somewhat excessive, but he will not know that until a mental evaluation is completed before Jones’ sentencing date. The judge also ordered a pre-sentence investigation to be conducted before a sentence is imposed.

jgoodwin@vindy.com

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