Friday, bond was refused for four state corrections guards accused of killing a prisoner at Dade Correctional Institution near Florida City.
The officers were arrested after the main investigator stated it took them more than five minutes to carry a mental patient down an 80-yard walkway without video cameras.
Prosecutors and witnesses said Ronald Gene Ingram, 60, was good in the hallway. When he exited, he couldn’t walk, had difficulties breathing, and needed help getting into a van to go to Ocala.
The four prison officers were charged with second-degree murder, conspiracy, aggravated violence and cruel treatment in April. Friday’s meeting was to determine if any of the four will be released before trial. Unset trial date.
“They all beat him to death,” Pooler recalled. “The fact that it was out of camera range tells me they tried to hide something”
The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner ruled the 133-pound man’s death a murder after finding 10 broken ribs. One of them perforated his lung and killed him in two hours.
According to prosecutors and defense attorneys, Ingram was hit after he threw urine on a guard while refusing to leave his cell early on Feb. 14.
The guards’ counsel contended that the state’s attempt to deny release was based on hearsay and lacked intent. No DNA links Ingram to any of the guards, and other guards who may be involved are providing testimonies under immunity.
During Friday’s hearing, attorney Ed Martinez asked Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Garrett Carlisle why he didn’t arrest another guard who admitted hitting Ingram but wasn’t charged after testifying for the state.
The FDLE agent answered, “I’d defer to the state.”
Martinez informed the judge, “Mr. Ingram died horribly.” They must prove who and why.
Christopher Rolon, 29, Ronald Connor, 24, Kirk Walton, 34, and Jeremy Godbolt, 28, were arrested earlier this year when Ingram was found dead in a van during a five-hour ride from Florida City to Ocala. On the van floor next to him were uneaten vegetables and a sandwich. Two breaks allowed convicts to stretch throughout the voyage.
No one testified Ingram was impaired during the journey. Witnesses reported he didn’t get out at any stop. The four guards deny using undue force to kill Ingram.
According to other guards and the arrest warrant, Godbolt and another guard reached Ingram’s cell around 3:30 a.m. on Valentine’s Day. He peed on Godbolt while refusing to leave for Ocala. Officers “extract” Ingram. Godbolt, who admitting slapping Ingram, walked to his cell to get his shoes.
At 3:48 a.m., Ingram, escorted by numerous guards, entered the control room and departed where the van was waiting. Assistant State Attorney Tim Vandergiesen said it took five minutes before the men were seen again. Ingram had trouble breathing and moving when they emerged and needed help getting into a van.
Vandergiesen claimed Godbolt assured a witness he’d “never piss on another person again.”
Witnesses say Sgt. Godbolt slapped Ingram repeatedly while he was restrained and without fighting back. After Ingram fell, officers “kicked and stomped” him, the warrant alleges. Three officers “struck” and taunted him when he stood up.
Witnesses say the officers lied about the incident. Rolon allegedly told an officer, “Don’t worry about anything… they have to establish everything first.”
Several officers’ families went. Godbolt’s pastor father said he’d never heard him swear. Another guard’s partner stated she’d have to leave their home with a child if her boyfriend went to prison.
Judge Pooler stated a 25-year prison term was “strong inducement to leave” despite the testimony.