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Officials: Inmate beaten by cell mate

The man, charged with murder, was attacked after his comments angered his cell mate, reports say.

By CARY DAVIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 25, 2000


LAND O'LAKES -- A man facing a murder charge in a fatal stabbing suffered serious facial injuries Sunday when he was attacked by another inmate at the Pasco County jail in Land O'Lakes, the Sheriff's Office reported.

Deputies said that John Webster punched Enrique Guzan Garcia about five times in a jail pod that houses the most violent inmates. Webster landed several blows while Garcia was on the floor covering his face with his hands, reports said.

At the time of the beating, Garcia was awaiting transfer to a state mental hospital. A judge last week ruled that Garcia was incompetent to stand trial in the November stabbing death of Ricardo Lopez.

Circuit Judge Wayne Cobb ordered Garcia, 27, to spend at least six months in a mental hospital. Garcia will stand trial for first-degree murder if doctors deem him competent for trial.

Webster, 25, of 38931 C Ave. in Zephyrhills, was charged with aggravated battery on an inmate in a detention facility. Webster was in the jail serving a one-year sentence for a 1997 charge of throwing a deadly missile into an occupied vehicle.

Webster told deputies that he started throwing punches at 9:15 p.m. after Garcia suddenly turned on him holding a pen in his hand, reports said. Garcia became angry after Webster accused him of stealing some of his personal belongings, reports said.

"I asked him why he took my stuff and he said to me, "Get away from me, you monkey,' " Webster told deputies, according to reports. Garcia suffered cuts on the inside of his mouth, abrasions on his head and left ear and several of his teeth were knocked loose, reports said.

Although deputies, in reports, described the injuries as "serious," Garcia was not taken to a hospital for treatment.

Garcia has been in the jail since Nov. 16, the day he reportedly admitted to stabbing Lopez in a vacant lot in the Tommytown community after an argument over a woman.

Garcia told sheriff's detectives that he hid behind an old barber shop in the predawn darkness of Nov. 14 and, when Lopez walked by, he stabbed him repeatedly. He also admitted plunging a knife into Lopez's groin, reports said.

When defense attorneys began preparing the case for trial, they got little cooperation from Garcia, who reported hearing voices and didn't appear capable of understanding daily life.

Three mental health experts evaluated Garcia in his jail cell and determined that he was psychotic. Garcia told the psychologists that if he killed Lopez, the devil -- or possibly a monkey he said he found in a pot in his front yard -- made him do it.

The psychologists also reported that Garcia didn't know where he was born or who his parents are. There was a foul odor in his cell and jailers said he had been chewing the inside of his cheek and spitting blood on the floor.

Sheriff's spokesman Jon Powers said that Garcia had recently been moved into a pod with Webster because he couldn't get along with inmates in another section of the jail.


-- Staff writer Chase Squires contributed to this report.

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