LACONIA — A inmate housed at the Belknap County Jail appeared in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division by video yesterday and pleaded not guilty to one misdemeanor count of assault by prisoners, mutual consent.
Affidavits filed with the court by the Belknap County Sheriffs Department said Corey Cromwell, 26, of 18 Pine St. in Tilton allegedly hit fellow inmate Cody Ryan with his hand during a confrontation.
During the investigation, police learned that Ryan and Cromwell were housed in the same unit in adjoining cells. On the evening of December 1, 2014 witnesses said Ryan was "banging" in his cell and yelling racist obscenities at Cromwell.
Ryan was successful in getting some of the other inmates to join him. Corrections officers put the entire unit on lock down for the night. The lock down ended in the early morning hours of the next day.
Ryan allegedly kept yelling to Cromwell saying the two would meet "face to face" in the morning.
At 5:45 p.m., a guard in the main console room watched on video and saw Cromwell go into Ryan's cell, come out once and then go back in. He notified other guards that there was a fight in the unit.
When guards arrived, both men were removed from the unit. Ryan allegedly had blood coming from his nose and Cromwell allegedly had blood on his T-shirt.
Ryan allegedly told one of the guards that because Cromwell was so much bigger than he was he just started swinging when Cromwell entered his cell.
During his police interview, Cromwell waived his right to legal counsel and told a sheriff's deputy that he thought Ryan was making a ruckus on December 1 because he was being sent to the N.H. State Prison the next morning.
Cromwell told the deputy that he did go into Ryan's cell to tell him it wasn't fair to punish all of them for something that Ryan did. Cromwell left Ryan's cell but was called back in by Ryan. He said when he went in the second time, Ryan started swinging at him, hitting him mainly in the chest. Cromwell said he swung at Ryan in self defense.
A different inmate in the same unit told the deputy that he heard Ryan tell Cromwell to return to the cell and that he heard Ryan call Cromwell a racial slur. He said Ryan tried to to grab Cromwell by the legs in a take-down move and that's when the fight began.
Affidavits said Ryan refused to cooperate with the deputy's investigation. N.H. State Prison's on-line inmate locator said Ryan is prison for a year. He was convicted of heroin possession.
Cromwell remains in Belknap County Jail and is awaiting trial for charges stemming from a Laconia incident revolving around his role in a car theft. He also faces charges from Gilford Police for one count of arson.
The sheriff's investigation into the fight ongoing and additional arrests could be made.
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