NOTE from NCFM: Interestingly the Internet version leaves out information about the judge found in the article below. She, the judge, gives this almost beaten to death man two whole days to report to an employment agency after being released from the hospital. To subject parents in arrears for child support to debtors prison where they can be beaten, raped, and even murdered over a glass of orange juice or any other disagreement is contrary to everything American’s have died to protect for over 200 years. Those who legislate and enforce such terror should be tried for treason, if not murder.
Federal inmate vs. dad in jail
By CLYNTON NAMUO
New Hampshire Union Leader 05/11/2011, Page A01
Union Leader Correspondent
DOVER — A jail inmate severely beaten Monday morning during an argument over juice is being released as a result, according to court documents.
Andrew Dion, 43, of Boston, allegedly attacked Stephen Mercier, 44, of Farmington, around 5:45 in the morning over a breakfast dispute about how much juice Mercier was getting, Sheriff Capt.
Joseph DiGregorio said.
Dion is accused of punching Mercier numerous times, fracturing his sku ll.
Mercier has serious head injuries, including facial fractures and bleeding inside his skull, DiGregorio said.
Mercier was taken first to Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover and then flown to Dartmouth- Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, where he was in satisfactory condition Tuesday afternoon.
DiGregorio said Mercier was conscious and alert Tuesday when sheriff deputies interviewed him in the hospital; he backed up stories from inmates and a corrections officer that Dion attacked him.
Mercier has been imprisoned since May 2 for failing to pay child support. On May 5, Dover Family Court Judge Susan Ashley ordered Mercier to pay $1,000 toward the approximately $40,000 he owed or remain jailed. On Monday afternoon, Ashley withdrew that order.
“On May 9, 2011, the court was informed by Strafford County person nel that Stephen Mercier needed emergency medical treatment,” Ashley wrote in her order. “Accordingly, the court suspends its order for a lump sum payment so that Mr. Mercier may be released to be medically treated without security. As a condition of this suspension of payment, Mr. Mercier shall, within 48 hours of being discharged from hospitalization, report to the employability program and follow all requirements of that program.”
Mercier will still have to pay what is owed.
Dion has been incarcerated for about two weeks as he awaits arraignment on federal charges that he and another man stole a car in Massachusetts and then drove it to Vermont to rob a bank. He is not alleged to have used violence during the robbery, and is scheduled for arraignment May 18 in Burlington, Vt.
DiGregorio said Monday’s assault was bad enough that officials feared Mercier c ould die and notified the state Attorney General’s Office, which handles murder prosecutions, just in case.
Dion will likely be indicted on state charges of assault, which may carry a punishment of 7 1/2 to 15 years in prison, DiGregorio said. In the meantime, he will remain incarcerated on the federal charges.
“He’s since been removed from the general population and put in maximum security,” DiGregorio said.
The severity of Monday’s assault raised questions about how prisoners are housed in Strafford County, which holds some federal inmates prior to sentencing.
County Administrator Ray Bower said inmates are not housed based upon whether they are federal or state inmates, and he noted that the jail knows of no prior history of violence for Dion.
“You can have federal guys that are in the re for income tax evasion,” he said. “We classify people based on their conduct, what they’re accused of and their history during incarceration. All of those things are factors. It doesn’t matter who makes the charges.”
The assault happened in the common area of a housing unit with about 40 inmates, Bower said. Inmates are locked down from midnight to 5 a.m. and allowed to walk about their housing unit for most of the rest of the time, save for things like shift changes and headcounts, he said.
Assaults of this severity are exceedingly rare, Bower said, noting he can remember only one other. In that instance, he said, one inmate hit another, who fell and hit his head.
The Strafford County jail has about 375 inmates, Bower said.