JACKSON TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE 28/WYOU 22 EYEWITNESS NEWS) — A corrections officer and an inmate have been arrested in connection to the January death of an inmate at SCI Dallas, police say.
Edgar Gearhart was found dead in a prison cell on January 28. On Wednesday, Osmel Martinez, a corrections officer from Kingston, and Nafese Pierce, an inmate, were arrested for their involvement in Gearhart’s death.
Court papers say an altercation began between Gearhart and Pierce over phone use on January 28. Pierce told Martinez he was going to fight Gearhart, to which Martinez responded “not down on the block, take it up to the cell”.
Another inmate was seen passing a prison shank to Pierce, court papers say.
Pierce and Gearhart argued for a short time in front of Gearhart’s cell. Pierce was seen striking Gearhart in the neck/shoulder area. Gearhart’s cell door then closed with Gearhart inside, court papers say.
Pierce later approached Martinez and told him “I stuck him”, court papers say the two laughed about it.
Inmates witnessed Gearhart laying on the floor of the cell, non-responsive and gurgling. Court papers say the inmates informed Martinez that Gearhart needed medical attention, to which Martinez responded “f*** him, let the next shift deal with it”.
Gearhart suffered a wound to the left shoulder/neck area and a laceration below his knee cap, court papers say. They determined the cause of death to be a stab wound to the neck, and the manner of death was determined to be homicide.
During an interview on February 5, Martinez admitted to investigators he was provided information during his next shift following Gearhart’s death, indicating that Pierce may have been responsible. Court papers say Martinez did not notify SCI Dallas supervision or Pennsylvania State Police.
When confronted about this Martinez said it was “just prison talk”, court papers say.
The court calls Martinez’s actions “reckless and grossly negligent” and say Martinez repeatedly failed to put an end to the disturbances between Pierce and Gearhart and condoned and suggested the location of assault.
Martinez is being charged with involuntary manslaughter, obstruction of administration of law and unsworn falsification to authorities. Martinez’s bail has been set at $50,000. He worked at SCI Dallas for three years.
Pierce is being charged with criminal homicide, inmate procuring a weapon and tampering with/fabricating physical evidence. Pierce was denied bail.
The district attorney tells Eyewitness News both Martinez and Pierce were arraigned in Kingston by District Judge Tupper.