Former SCDC lieutenant sentenced to seven years for 2016 inmate stabbing

Updated: Feb. 27, 2020 at 6:48 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A former South Carolina Department of Corrections officer will spend the next seven years in federal prison after pleading guilty to deprivation of rights under color of law last Friday.

Former Lt. Jarrell Boyan, 29, was convicted of stabbing Kenya Spry, an inmate at Kirkland Correctional Institution in October of 2016. According to prosecutors, Spry damaged the light fixture in his cell, causing it to break. As a result, Boyan and two other officers restrained him in order to perform a search of his cell.

After handcuffing Spry, officers found a homemade knife in his possession and confiscated it. Prosecutors said the knife was secured a safe distance away from the cell and out of the cell block. Several minutes later, they said Boyan took Spry back into his cell. Then, surveillance video shows Boyan leaving the wing and out of view of camera, where he retrieved the knife. He then placed the knife in his pocket, returned to the wing, and went back into Spry’s cell, prosecutors said.

It was then prosecutors argued Boyan, out of view from cameras, stabbed Spry four times, piercing his kidney and liver. Further, they alleged Boyan filed a false report about the incident and instructed the other two officers to do the same.

Pamela Spry said when she noticed her son, Kenya, stopped calling, she called SCDC.

“The man told me he was at the hospital because there was an accident,” she said.

Months later, she said she was able to connect with Kenya and speak to him on the phone. His story about what happened varies drastically from that of prosecutors and Boyan’s defense team.

“They told him that they were going to take him for a shower, so he got undressed, and he said once he got undressed to take the shower, that’s when they turned off the light and they began to stab him,” Pamela Spry said.

John Delgado, Boyan’s attorney, said the picture painted by the prosecution in court is not what actually happened.

“He took the knife out of the hallway where it had been positioned because he didn’t want other inmates to get it. It had not been secured,” he said. “It had been left outside the cell so he took it and put it in his pants.”

Delgado said because Spry broke the light inside his cell it was dark, causing confusion for the officers trying to restrain him.

“He pulled out from his cargo pants uniform, instead of the handcuff he was supposed to use, he pulled out the knife and the stabbing took place,” he said.

When asked why Spry was stabbed four times, Delgado said he was unsure but highlighted Spry’s extensive disciplinary record behind bars.

Spry was sentenced in 2004 to 10 years after being convicted of armed robbery in Newberry County. However, more than 200 disciplinary incidents, assaults, contraband, and misconduct have added nearly 10 additional years to his sentence.

“You will become aghast at the things this man has done,” Delgado said. “Homemade knives, putting urine in toothpaste tubes and squirting it underneath the masks of the nurses trying to help him.”

Spry’s mother said underlying mental illnesses are largely to blame for her son’s behavior, although she admits some things he must take responsibility for.

“My son, once he got into the system, he just couldn’t deal with it,” she said. “Everybody can’t deal with it and he was never in compliance with anything they asked him to do because he did not want to be there.”

“When a corrections officer breaks the public trust,” South Carolina Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said, “they must be held accountable for their actions. The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office working alongside the SCDC Police Services Division did a great job bringing this case to justice.”

Boyan will report to federal prison this spring.

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