NEW BOSTON, Texas–An inmate accused of assaulting a correctional officer in November 2016 at the Barry Telford Unit in New Boston is on trial this week in Bowie County.
David Robert Steiner Jr., 40, is serving time in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for two counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon stemming from misconduct in south Texas in 2012. Steiner was fleeing from law enforcement when he drove his car toward border patrol agents, running them off the road.
Steiner struck a car occupied by three civilians during the chase. Two died and a third was injured.
In addition to a 30-year sentence he received for the murders and assault in January 2014, Steiner also has a 20-year federal prison sentence to serve for endangering the border agents, possessing a stolen firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
This week Steiner is being tried in connection with a November 2016 attack on a Telford correctional officer. Witnesses testified Wednesday under questioning from First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp and Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards that Steiner asked Officer Louis Jaralillo to let him in his cell Nov. 10, 2016.
Jaralillo told Steiner he could not let him in his cell until officers had completed a routine inmate count, as prison policy requires. A video shown to the jury Wednesday depicts Steiner punching Jaralillo several times in the head before Jaralillo uses chemical spray to stop the assault. As Jaralillo motions for the officer controlling the secure doors from the dayroom, Steiner runs to a shower area, grabs a six-inch metal rod sharpened to a point and returns.
Jaralillo makes it through the door and it closes just as Steiner approaches from behind.
Crisp told the jury in her opening remarks that there is no justification for Steiner’s misconduct. A state public defender, Ndubisi Ogbodo, argued that Steiner believed the attack was necessary because he feared being raped or killed by prison gang members and wanted to be transferred to a different prison unit.
The state rested its case Wednesday evening. Thursday the defense may call witnesses in support of its position that Steiner’s conduct was necessary for self protection.
Steiner is charged with assault of a peace officer, aggravated assault of a peace officer and possession of a weapon in a penal institution. Assault on a peace officer is punishable by two to 20 years in prison, aggravated assault of a peace officer is punishable by five to 99 years or life in prison and possession of a weapon is punishable by two to 10 years in prison.