It took about two hours for a jury in Lycoming County court Friday to convict an inmate at the state Correctional Institution at Muncy of aggravated harassment by a prisoner and simple assault against a prison guard for spitting and throwing what was thought to be urine on her face and uniform.
The separate incidents took place on Dec. 2 and Dec. 7, 2009 at the prison, respectively, when Dawn Marie Ball, 42, refused to take a food tray through a port on her cell door from guard Maurica George.
George said in court Thursday that Ball became belligerent, yelled racial slurs at her and told her she would stalk and kill her.
Although a defense witness also said Thursday the prison's assistant superintendent attempted to talk her out of getting involved with Ball's trial, he told jurors Friday that wasn't true.
Ball's friend and fellow inmate, Christina D. Wilson, 30, who was housed in a cell near Ball when the incidents occurred, said Troy Edwards interrupted she and Ball's attorney, Jeffrey A. Rowe, during an interview on the grounds of the facility and told Wilson not to become involved with the trial.
"Did I ask you to lie?" Rowe asked Wilson Friday when she appeared via video conference from the prison.
"No," she said, adding her court testimony was truthful.
Wilson is incarcerated with numerous theft and conspiracy charges.
In his closing argument, Rowe said jurors should take her statements seriously.
"It doesn't mean they're lying because of who they are," he said.
Rowe also questioned the investigative process of prison staff, who did not preserve the scene of the incident or physical evidence, such as George's uniform, which she said was soaked with a "stinky liquid" from the Dec. 7, 2009 event.
Video footage of Ball's restricted housing unit at the time of the incidents also was not produced by the prison, Rowe said.
He also said the state Department of Corrections responded in a slow manner and didn't reveal documents he sought for the trial.
"They were not exactly cooperative," he said of the agency.
A state police investigator was notified three months after the incidents and the liquid was never officially identified as urine, Rowe added. He also said prison staff did not follow department policies regarding reporting incidents that could end up in criminal litigation.
"Why would they not do everything by the book and whack her with it?" Rowe asked.
But Martin Wade, assistant district attorney, said in his closing arguments that prison staff did not want to keep Ball - who guards testified can be difficult to deal with - for more time in jail.
"Who's on trial here?" Wade told jurors in his closing argument, noting the trial wasn't about prison policies.
"Why would they come here and fabricate testimony? For what?" said Wade. "So they can spend more time with her? And get her convicted of a crime? It's crazy."
Ball's conviction could mean another three to five years in prison for her, according to the Lycoming County District Attorney's office.
Judge Marc F. Lovecchio, who presided over the trial, ordered Ball to be transferred to the Norristown State Hospital for a psychological evaluation to be used at her sentencing, which is scheduled for Jan. 31, 2013.