BUCKS COUNTY, Pa. — A 33-year-old Bucks County inmate at Graterford Prison has been charged with murder in the death of another inmate seven weeks after he was beaten during an attack in an outdoor exercise cage, police said.
John Anthony Kasianczuk of Levittown allegedly punched Roberto Avalle in the head, then stomped on Avalle's head, causing a brain hemorrhage that ultimately killed him, police said.
The attack occurred on Aug. 22, 2010, officials said. Avalle died on Oct. 9 while being treated in the infirmary at the State Correctional Institution at Laurel Highlands, in Somerset County. The arrest was delayed because Somerset County has no medical examiner and had to turn to Allegheny County for the service.
Avalle, 49, of Philadelphia, was "the new kid on the block" when the attack occurred, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said, having been there just 10 days.
Avalle was serving a 21/2-to-five-year sentence for witness intimidation in Philadelphia, Ferman said, and was committed to Graterford on Aug. 12, 2010.
Kasianczuk was serving a 11/2- to three-year term for a robbery in Bucks County. He had been incarcerated since Aug. 25, 2008, Ferman said, and was about to be released when state troopers arrested him April 16.
Kasianczuk was arraigned over the weekend and charged with first- and third-degree murder. He was being held without bail at the Montgomery County prison.
According to the criminal complaint, Kasianczuk and Avalle had been placed together in the exercise pen, with correctional officer Aaron Reitz assigned to watch them.
At 6:32 p.m., Reitz told authorities, Kasianczuk began to "bully" Avalle. Reitz said he told Kasianczuk "relax" in a bid to head off trouble.
Avalle had walked away from the other man, toward where Reitz was standing at the front of the cage, when Kasianczuk "punched him directly in the left side of the head, knocking [Avalle] to the ground."
Kasianczuk then stomped on Avalle's head until the victim lost consciousness, the complaint said. At that moment, Reitz went back into the prison to get help, the complaint stated.
It was not immediately clear why Reitz did not intervene. The entire assault was captured on a prison surveillance camera.
Avalle was initially treated at Hahnemann University Hospital and transferred to Mercy Suburban Hospital in Norristown on Aug. 31. It discharged him on Sept. 16, 2010. Due to his need for continued care, Avalle was placed in the infirmary at Laurel Highlands.