An inmate at the New Lisbon Correctional Institution is facing an extended stay after he allegedly attacked his cellmate, causing severe injuries.
Deshum Smith, 43, of New Lisbon is charged with felony battery by prisoners. If convicted, he faces up to six years in prison or a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
According to the criminal complaint:
At about 2:05 p.m. May 16, 2020, Officer Nick Wilke was dispatched to the New Lisbon Correctional Institution for a reported disturbance that occurred earlier in the day, causing severe injuries to a prisoner.
The victim was transported to Mile Bluff Medical Center and later UW Hospital for surgery for substantial injuries to his face including a broken or fractured orbital, dislocated jaw and lacerations to his face. Wilke was initially told the victim had a seizure and hit his head on the wall and ground.
Upon reviewing photographs of the injuries with correctional staff, Wilke was told by prison staff that they did not know of the victim having any history of seizures and they believed the victim was struck by his cellmate, Deshum Smith, multiple times.
Wilke searched the cell, which had been partially cleaned due to the facility’s protocols on blood, and determined that the victim had been in a semi-upright position on two separate occasions based on blood spots on the wall. During the search, Wilke was informed Smith did not have any blood or marks on his fists, but Wilke was unable to locate an item in the cell which could have caused the injuries.
A review of the video footage from about 10 minutes before the injuries occurred showed the victim and Smith walking down a few cells and speaking with some other inmates, then walking back to their cell less than a minute later.
According to the Unit Sergeant Brandon Bolton who was on duty at the time of the incident, an inmate approached the officer station at about 11:54 a.m. and said “dudes cellie in 66 is having a seizure.” An ambulance was called and a camera was requested to document the injuries.
While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, Bolton spoke with Smith, who said the victim was standing when his body began to shake. Smith “adamantly” stated the victim was having headaches over the past several weeks and that he was waiting until COVID was over to get checked out for the headaches. Smith told Bolton the victim was his “bro” and he needed help.
On Sept. 10, 2020 Wilke spoke to the victim at the correctional facility. The victim stated he believed he was unconscious for about 40 minutes after being assaulted. The victim said Smith began cleaning up the cell when he gathered his things and placed them on the bed to help clean.
Smith looked at the victim and asked if he was mad, at which point the victim said he was not mad and did not want to start anything. Smith then brought up an incident from months prior where the victim fought someone in the courtyard. Smith stated if the victim was mad he would “beat his ass right now.”
The victim and Smith went down to speak to one of Smith’s friends in another cell about the courtyard incident, then returned to the cell. The victim turned on the television and sat down, at which point Smith came in and appeared to grab something from his locker.
Smith then “blindsided” the victim and struck him in the face. The victim was pinned and unable to get up or defend himself, and he blacked out after a few punches. When the victim regained consciousness he was bleeding on the floor, and then the next thing he remembered he was in the hospital.
The victim admitted to having issues with migraines, but said he did not have a history of seizures. Smith declined an interview with Wilke.
Charges in the case were filed in 2021. Smith is scheduled for a preliminary hearing May 18 at the Juneau County Justice Center.
Reach Christopher Jardine on Twitter @ChrisJJardine or contact him at 608-432-6591.