A federal jury on Wednesday found Erin Sharma guilty on both of the criminal counts she faced, issuing a grim judgment on the corrections officer from Ocala. The 12 jurors, who took nearly six hours to reach a verdict at the federal courthouse here, found that Sharma participated in a conspiracy to deprive inmate Richard Delano of his civil rights, and that her acts ultimately resulted in Delano’s death in March 2005.
At Sharma’s sentencing on Oct. 26, Senior U.S. District Judge Patricia C. Fawsett has discretion to sentence the defendant up to life in prison. Sharma is not subject to a mandatory minimum term.
In the meantime, Sharma, 33, will be held in detention. The mother to an 8-year-old daughter was taken into custody at the courthouse, after waving a brief goodbye to her mother, Sharon Donald; her husband, Rajesh; and several fellow corrections officers from the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex who had come to support her.
“The jury obviously worked hard. It’s obvious we’re disappointed with the verdict,” Sharma’s defense attorney, Mike Nielsen, said afterward. His client, however, was “prepared for any verdict.” The Winter Springs attorney plans to file an appeal. Donald, of Panama City, shook her head from her seat as the verdict was announced. “My daughter is totally innocent,” she said later.
Government attorneys marched briskly out of the courtroom as soon as Sharma was taken into custody and could not be reached for comment. Over the course of seven days, jurors listened as prison inmates, corrections officers, Bureau of Prison employees and FBI agents were called upon to discuss their recollection of events surrounding the March 2005 assault at one of Coleman’s two maximum-security prisons.
Delano, 40, was viciously beaten by his cellmate, John McCullah. The government argued that Sharma, as a corrections officer, conspired with fellow corrections officer Michael Kennedy to transfer Delano into McCullah’s cell at the Special Housing Unit (SHU) out of revenge and spite. Sharma, prosecutors said, knew of Delano’s reputation as a prison snitch and
McCullah’s reputation as a notoriously violent inmate nicknamed “Animal,” who belonged to prison gang Aryan Brotherhood, a group that hated snitches, More…………..
In the Federal prison system the Aryan Brotherhood (AB) rules and although members of the AB ordinarily wear numerous tattoos, the true AB tattoo is a green Shamrock, the letters AB, and three sixes.