Inmate found guilty of aggravated assault for punching officer

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NEW BOSTON, Texas: A Texas prison inmate was found guilty of aggravated assault on a public servant Tuesday afternoon by a jury in Bowie County.

Bryan Austin White, 27, is facing 15 to 99 years or life in prison at sentencing. A jury of nine women and three men found White guilty in the Jan. 3 assault of Barry Telford Unit Correctional Officer Kevin Squibb after about 30 minutes of deliberations.

White’s attorney, Jeff Harrelson of Texarkana, asked the jury to find White guilty of the assault on a public servant instead. That offense carries a lower punishment range than aggravated assault.

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Squibb testified under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp that White approached him the morning of Jan. 3 asking about participating in a work detail. Squibb said White became so agitated when he told him he was not on a work roster that he called his supervisor for help over his radio as both men stood on the third level of building 8 where White’s two-man cell in general population was located.

In a video recording of the incident without audio, White can be seen walking away from Squibb with a book in his hand. After Squibb finishes speaking over the radio, White can be seen walking away and dropping the book he held as he placed both hands behind his back. Squibb is not looking at White as White “squares up” and lands a blow to the left side of Squibb’s head.

Office of Inspector General Investigator Michael Horn testified that Squibb was clearly unconscious from the punch as he does nothing to break his fall to the concrete floor. In the video, White can be seen picking up his book and stepping over Squibb’s motionless body after the assault.

Squibb testfied that he has no memory of what happened after he spoke with his supervisor. Witnesses testified Squibb was carried down three flight of stairs on a back board and seen in the prison infirmary before being transported to a local hospital by ambulance.

“I just remember being back at home,” Squibb said.

Squibb suffered a concussion, bleeding in his ear, and lacerations to his head. Squibb said he continues to suffer painful headaches and dizziness.

Telford Warden Garth Parker testified that an incident like the one involving White causes serious disruptions to the entire prison. Parker said Telford houses about 3,000 inmates and employs about 700 staff members.

“About 555 are correctional officers. The rest are nurses, clerical, chaplains, teachers and other support staff,” Parker said.

Crisp and Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards that what transpired between Squibb and White was no fistfight. The prosecutors argued that in the moment of the assault, White used his fist as a potentially deadly weapon.

Richards described the assault as a “sucker punch,” and Crisp argued that the conduct was far more severe than a kick to the leg or thump to the head.

White has asked that 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart decide his punishment. Aggravated assault on a public servant is punishable by five to 99 years or life in prison. Because of prior convictions, White faces a minimum 15-year sentence. Lockhart is scheduled to hear testimony Wednesday morning concerning the issue of punishment.

White is currently serving two sentences of 25 years for aggravated robbery. He was sentenced Jan. 30, 2012, in Kaufman County, Texas, for the crimes which were committed Feb. 23, 2011, and July 16, 2011, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website.

TDCJ shows White will be eligible for parole April 6, 2024, and that his maximum sentence date is Oct. 6, 2036, for the aggravated robberies. He could be ordered to serve his time for the assault on Squibb consecutive to the time he is serving for the robberies.

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