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Monday, October 29, 2007

Strangled inmate was registered sex offender

3-17-2004 Pennsylvania:

SOMERSET, Pa. — The inmate who was fatally assaulted Saturday by his cellmate at SCI-Somerset had been designated a sexual predator under Megan’s Law.

Jose L. Collazo, 51, of York, was found dead in his cell at about 3:40 a.m. after a correctional officer heard noise in his cell and then discovered cellmate Steven Ramidial, 27, Philadelphia, choking him.

Ramidial was removed from the cell and officers attempted CPR on Collazo who was unresponsive.

Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller has ruled Collazo was strangled to death.

Ramidial, who is serving a four- to 10-year sentence for arson in Philadelphia, has been charged with criminal homicide and assault. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Friday before District Justice Arthur Cook of Somerset.

While being searched, Ramidial reportedly struck an officer in the eye and kicked a second officer.

Collazo was convicted of sexually molesting a preteen girl three times between August 1996 and January 1997.

He was the state’s first Megan’s Law violator to be subject to community notification by police fliers. In 1997, York officials distributed fliers with Collazo’s picture to about 50 homes and businesses within 250 feet of his home.

“The issue is that sex offenders traditionally have been at risk (in prison),” said Scott Phornsley, a criminal justice professor at Mansfield University in Tioga County, and a former director of legislative affairs for state Department of Corrections. “A lot of inmates have children. They don’t like sex offenders.”

Saturday’s homicide was the third at SCI-Somerset since it opened in 1993. Two of the murders occurred within seven months of each other in 1995.

In March of that year, inmate Ernest Evans, then 55, fatally beat his cellmate, James Bennett, in a dispute regarding Bennett’s hygiene, according to a published report.

That October, three prisoners attacked another inmate in a vestibule. Inmate Gerald Bogan, 43, struck his head on a concrete floor and died five days later at a Pittsburgh hospital.

By comparison, no murders have occurred at SCI-Laurel Highlands, a state prison in Somerset that opened in 1996 for older and infirm inmates. ..more.. Staff

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