Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

February 28, 2013

Prison beating trial date postponed

Inmate charged with attempted murder, battery.

Peru — The trial date for a prison inmate accused of severely beating a guard was postponed for the third time last week, after prosecutors said a key witness was on medical leave and unable to testify.

Ruben Gonzalez is charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery after police said he repeatedly beat guard Rodney Gahl in the head and face with a sock containing a padlock last February at the Miami Correctional Facility.

Police said Gahl, a 10-year employee at the prison, suffered a skull fracture, a broken jaw, arterial bleeding inside his neck and hearing loss.

Gonzalez was serving a 40-year prison sentence for aggravated battery at the time of the alleged attack.

The three-day trial was most recently scheduled to begin March 11, but Prosecutor Jeffrey Sinkovics said Thursday an “essential” witness was on medical leave and unable to testify until late April.

Sinkovics said the witness is a doctor who will testify the prison guard faced “a serious chance of injuries and death” from the beating.

Circuit Court Judge Tim Spahr granted a continuance of the trial, which is now set to begin April 22.

Gonzalez was first set to face a jury in October, but that was postponed after the death of Circuit Court Judge Robert Spahr.

The trial was rescheduled in November, but the defense requested a continuance after prosecutors submitted an additional list of witnesses before the trial.

If convicted, Gonzalez could serve an additional 50 years in prison for attempted murder and up to 20 years for aggravated battery.

Carson Gerber is a Kokomo Tribune reporter. He may be reached at 765-854-6739, or by email at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com.

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