MILWAUKEE -- The trial against a now-former correctional officer with Milwaukee County ended unexpectedly Friday morning, Jan. 18. In a deal with prosecutors, James Ramsey-Guy pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count of obstructing an officer.
Ramsey-Guy is the now former correctional officer charged in connection with the death of Terrill Thomas, an inmate who died at the Milwaukee County Jail. He previously faced one count of abuse of residents of penal facilities. But in court on Friday, a plea deal was reached.
Opting not to leave his fate up to a jury, James Ramsey-Guy told the judge he doesn't dispute the state's position that he lied during an inquest into Thomas' death.
"The misleading and false information that was presented by Mr. Ramsey-Guy at that time did obstruct that police investigation," said Kurt Benkley, prosecutor.
Thomas was jailed after a shooting at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. In April 2016, Thomas was found dead in his cell after not having access to water for a week. The incident was ruled a homicide.
Ramsey-Guy was a guard at the time, and turned off Thomas' water as punishment for flooding his cell. Prosecutors argued Ramsey-Guy failed to notify other staff -- therefore, no one knew to turn the water back on. An official with the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office testified Thomas lost 10 percent of his body weight during the time he was locked in his cell with no water. He went without water for a week.
The defense argued he was just following orders from supervisors.
"The state has always felt that a misdemeanor-level conviction was appropriate for this defendant as a line-level guard in terms of his level of culpability in comparison to supervisors that we've charged," said Benkley.
Two other now former staffers also face charges. Nancy Evans faces one felony count of misconduct in office-act/inconsistent duty, and a misdemeanor charge of resisting or obstructing an officer. She has a jury trial scheduled for February. Kashka Meadors was charged with felony abuse of residents of penal facilities. She pleaded no contest in October, and will be sentenced on Jan. 28. Evans is the former commander, and Meadors a former supervisor.
Giving his attorney a hug and a handshake, Ramsey-Guy declined to comment on the plea deal as he left court. He's now facing a maximum penalty of nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine.
The state says it will be recommending 30 days behind bars, but will ask to stay that time and place the defendant on probation. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 31.