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Inmates may plead guilty in attack that severely injured CO

Three inmates, including two convicted killers, are awaiting trial on charges of attempted murder and assault on a CO with intent to inflict serious injury


By Andy Hoffman
The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa

BURLINGTON, Iowa — Three inmates, including two convicted killers, may enter guilty pleas later this month to felony charges relating to an attack last December on a correctional officer at the Des Moines County jail.

Jorge "Lumni" Sanders-Galvez, 23, Earl Booth Harris, 24, and Bobby Joe Morris, 26, are awaiting trial on charges of attempted murder and assault on a corrections officer with intent to inflict serious injury in the Dec. 10 attack.

The corrections officer was severely beaten by the inmates after he caught them making "hooch" in one of the men's cells in a maximum security area of the jail. The men are also charged with assaulting a female corrections officer who came to the assistance of the male officer.

During a subsequent interview with investigators, the injured officer told them he "believed during the attack that Sanders-Galvez and Booth Harris intended to kill him."

The trio was originally scheduled to go to trial Aug. 14 on the charges in Des Moines County District Court. However, court documents filed recently seem to indicate the men are going to enter guilty pleas at hearings later this month pleas rather than go to trial.

According to the court documents, District Judge Mary Ann Brown has issued specific transportation orders to allow the men to be at hearings later this month "for entry of the defendants' guilty pleas."

Sanders-Galvez, Booth Harris and Morris are currently being housed in state prison facilities in connection with their other convictions. They are scheduled to be transported individually to their hearings.

Court documents contained in each man's file do not outline the charges to which the men may plead guilty later this month.

Brown and the defense attorneys involved in the case have declined to comment on possible pleas, referring questions to documents contained in the court files.

Court officials say the effect the sentencings will have on Booth Harris and Sanders-Galvez will be minimal since they area already serving mandatory life sentences without the chance for parole. However, Morris could be impacted by the sentenced imposed upon him next week by Brown.

Morris is currently serving a 25-year prison term for a series of home invasion robberies involving Hispanics, who were working at the Iowa Fertilizer Co. plant in Wever during its construction. Although he was sentenced to 25 years on the robbery charges, he can become eligible for parole after serving 10 years. However, authorities said the sentence relating to the assault on the corrections officers could be run consecutive to the armed robbery convictions, giving him a much longer prison sentence than 10 years.

Morris' hearing is set for 11 a.m. May 21; Booth-Harris' hearing is set for 2:15 p.m. May 21; and Sanders-Galvez's hearing is set for 11:15 a.m. May 29, all at the Des Moines County Courthouse.

The convicts were charged with attacking the correctional officer about 4 p.m. Dec. 10 after the officer discovered them making "hooch" inside one of the maximum cells. The officers were attacked by the three inmates as they were attempting to investigate the situation.

The male CO, whose name has not been released, suffered multiple facial fractures that required surgery to repair.

The female officer also was taken to the medical center in West Burlington where she was treated and released for a concussion and laceration to the back of the head.

A large percentage of the attack was captured on surveillance video at the jail.

Both officers have returned to work, authorities said.

Sanders-Galvez was originally convicted last fall of first-degree murder in the March 2016 killing of Kedarie Johnson, a 16-year-old gender-fluid Burlington High School student. A co-defendant of Sanders-Galvez, Jaron Purham, is awaiting trial this August on first-degree murder charges in connection with Johnson's murder. He remains in custody awaiting trial.

Booth-Harris was convicted of killing Deonte "Tae Tae" Carter during an argument in 2015 over a pair of tennis shoes at South Hill Park.

©2018 The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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