Update: Second inmate arraigned in killing of Dalton man in prison
CLINTON - A second inmate charged with the brutal beating death of a Dalton man in prison was held without bail after his arraignment Monday morning in Clinton District Court.
Michael F. Freeman, 39, is charged in the murder of William Sires, 72, last week at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center.
Sires was serving a sentence of life without parole for the Sept. 5, 1973, shooting death of his mother, Anna Sires, who was shot three times inside her Dalton home after arguing with William about a loan and about playing his stereo too loud.
Freeman was one of three inmates who allegedly trapped Sires into a cell and beat him to death Aug. 12. The beating caused head and facial injuries so severe that the victim was "almost unrecognizable," according to court documents.
Another inmate, Allan Erazo, 27, was also held without bail after his arraignment on a murder charge Friday. Freeman's arraignment lasted only a few minutes before a next court date was set for Oct. 29 for a pretrial hearing, court officials said.
The third inmate, Chad Connors, 38, formerly of Avon, has also been charged with murder and will be arraigned on Friday, according to Paul Jarvey, a spokesman for Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.
According to court documents, prison surveillance video shows Sires, aided by the use of a cane, walking laps around a portion of the prison at about 1:30 p.m. Aug. 12 when he and Freeman became involved in a verbal confrontation. That incident escalated into a physical altercation but was quickly broken up by other inmates.
As Sires continued walking his laps, Freeman appeared to enlist the help of other inmates. A few minutes later, the two exchanged words again, but Sires continued walking. Freeman and the other inmates then headed toward a cell, with Connors staying outside to be a lookout.
Several moments later, the court document states, Erazo is seen violently ambushing Sires from behind and pulling him into the cell. Erazo immediately leaves, and Connors then pulls the curtain shut, obstructing any view inside, and walks away. Several moments later, another inmate inside the cell exits, leaving Freeman and Sires alone inside the cell for about 30 minutes.
At some point during the attack, an inmate requests that corrections officers close the door to the cell holding Freeman and Sires, locking them inside together.
At 2:01 p.m., a corrections officer making rounds discovers the bloodied body of Sires in the cell, with Freeman still there.
The document states that Freeman, Erazo and Connors "collectively conspired and executed a plan to ambush, attack, kidnap and force Sires into Cell 23 where he was ultimately beaten and killed."
An autopsy determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head, but that asphyxiation due to severe cranial injuries and a damaged airway passage also likely played a role, showcasing "the extreme atrocity of the attack." Video surveillance did not capture what happened inside the cell.
This is not the first time Freeman has assaulted another inmate at Souza-Baranowski, according to Jarvey.
Freeman also was charged with armed assault with intent to murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in the October 2009 stabbing of an inmate at the prison, he said. That inmate received multiple stab wounds from Freeman and another inmate, according to reports at the time.
Freeman pleaded guilty in that case in May 2012 and was sentenced to 8 to 12 years in prison, Jarvey said, but was already serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the June 23, 1995, murder of a 65-year-old Avon man during a home invasion.
According to reports at that time, Freeman, then of Brockton, was one of three young men to take part in the murder of Philip Meskinis, a disabled arborist, on June 23, 1995. After breaking into Meskinis' home, Freeman slashed him in the throat and stabbed him 27 times as he lay in bed.
Patrick T. Morse of Easton pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. Leonard Stanley, formerly of Middleboro, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 16 to 20 years in prison.
Freeman's attorney admitted his client broke into the home of Meskinis and stabbed him. But he argued his client was insane at the time. He said Freeman snapped and lost control when he slashed and stabbed Meskinis in a fit of rage because the 65-year-old victim raped him years earlier.
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