Man pleads guilty in prison riot trial

Published 12:03 am Thursday, January 15, 2015

A former inmate at Adams County Correctional Center pleaded guilty Wednesday to a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the death of a prison guard in 2012.

Ricardo Gonzalez-Porras was one of the hundreds of inmates involved in the May 20, 2012, riot at ACCC that resulted in more than $1.3 million in damage to the facility and the death of correctional officer Catlin Carithers.

He had previously pleaded not guilty to the May 2014 indictment against him, but changed his plea to guilty in federal court in Natchez Wednesday. Gonzalez-Porras now faces a penalty of up to life in prison, a fine of $250,000 and — should he ever be released — up to five years supervised release.

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U.S. Southern District of Mississippi Senior Judge David Bramlette III set Gonzalez-Porras’ sentencing for 10:20 a.m. April 7.

Assistant U.S. District Attorney Patrick Lemon said if the matter had gone to trial, the United States would have proved through testimony and video evidence Gonzalez-Porras was one of the inmates involved in the fatal assault on Carithers.

During the riot, inmates — including Gonzalez-Porras — stacked food carts in order to access the roof of the building on which Carithers was standing as part of his response to the attack and assaulted the guard with their hands, feet and improvised weapons, including a broom and a metal pole, Lemon said.

An autopsy later concluded Carithers — who was deploying crowd control gas from the roof at the time of the attack — died of blunt force trauma associated with his injuries.

The riot, which lasted for several hours, initially started as an organized mass disobedience by the prisoners, who told investigators they were trying to take a list of demands to prison officials to address what the prisoners perceived as issues with food quality, medical care and disrespectful guards.

During the attack, a number of other guards and prison personnel were assaulted and taken hostage, and an undisclosed number of inmates were also injured.

Several other defendants in the matter will go to trial March 23.