Juan Diaz Found guilty after jury trial of assaulting a correction officer
at Great Meadow Correctional Facility
Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III, acting as a Special Prosecutor for Washington County DA Tony Jordan, due to a conflict by Mr. Jordan’s office, announced today the conviction of Juan Diaz (8-24-81) of Upstate Correctional Facility in Malone, NY, of Assault in the Second degree a Class D violent felony for having caused physical injury to a Correction Officer while he was an inmate at Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, NY. The defendant was also convicted of Assault in the Second Degree (under a separate legal theory for causing physical injury by means of a dangerous instrument), Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree and two counts of Promoting Prison Contraband in the First Degree. The Honorable Kelly S. McKeighan presided over the trial which occurred in Washington County Court.
Diaz’s conviction stems from an incident that occurred on June 19, 2013, when he stabbed a correctional officer with a 6 1/2″ metal weapon resembling an ice pick. The defendant testified at trial stating that, “uniform” officers were responsible for destroying his life. He also claimed that he just “jabbed” at this particular correction officer with the weapon and that he was not actually trying to kill him. Fortunately, the correction officer did not sustain any life-threatening injuries and was released from the hospital a few hours after the incident.
In accordance with well-established law, jurors were not allowed to hear that the defendant had been incarcerated at Great Meadow Correctional Facility for murder after using a cinderblock to beat a wheel-chaired amputee to death in an alleyway in East Harlem in 2004.
DA Murphy said, “Corrections officers have extremely difficult and dangerous jobs. They are inside the prisons protecting us from inmates and keeping us safe. They must be vigilant every day to make sure that inmates do no harm to themselves, corrections officers or other inmates. When an assault in a correctional facility by an inmate occurs, it is my office’s obligation to hold the inmate responsible for his criminal conduct and make sure that justice is served. We must ensure that order is kept in the prisons by sending a message that when an inmate attacks a guard with a weapon he is convicted and serves a lengthy prison sentence. That is exactly what we intend to ask Judge McKeighan for on the day of sentencing.”
Further, DA Murphy praised the work of Assistant DAs Alan Poremba and John Leggett who prosecuted the case. “ADAs Poremba and Leggett had many hurdles to overcome in this case, not the least of which was that we were travelling to and from another county. In the end, their witness preparation, their knowledge of the case, and their argument before the jury prevailed enabling the jury to render a guilty verdict. Inmates will think twice before attacking an officer in the future, because there will be swift and sure consequences for their crime.”
Diaz is scheduled to be sentenced before Honorable Kelly S. McKeighan on May 23, 2014 at 1:30 pm. Due to his persistent violent offender status, Diaz faces an indeterminate prison sentence with a maximum term of life and a minimum term of 12 to 25 years.
Hon. James A. Murphy, III
Saratoga County District Attorney
25 West High Street
Ballston Spa, NY 12020
(518) 885-2263 wk
(518) 884-8627 fx
Web site: www.saratogacountyda.com