Delaware Public Media

Jury begins deliberations in second Vaughn trial

Feb 12, 2019

The second trial of inmates allegedly involved in the Vaughn prison riot has been turned over to the jury.


The four currently on trial are charged with conspiracy, riot, kidnapping and assault during the 2017 uprising at the Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna. They are also charged with murder of correctional officer Lt. Steven Floyd, who died during the standoff.

Counsel for the fourth defendant gave closing arguments Tuesday.


Tom Pedersen, representing John Bramble, echoed arguments from the other defense attorneys. He criticized the state’s investigation of the incident, saying there is “no physical or objective evidence that [the jury] can rely on in this case whatsoever.”

He criticized how the state chose inmates to put on trial, saying, “Every one of us sitting here is two witnesses away from being a suspect.”

Pederson also pointed to inconsistencies in state witness testimony against his client.

In the state’s rebuttal, Deputy Attorney General Brian Robertson emphasized the rapid movement he says characterized the violence during the riot. He asked whether witness testimonies were really inconsistent, or rather “a product of movement, timing and vantage?”

Like the other defense attorneys, Pederson also questioned the motivations of the state’s inmate witnesses.

Robertson maintained witnesses will not receive any benefits for cooperating. He said they were chosen in part because they spoke to authorities early.

The case is now in the hands of the 12-person jury, who will be asked to reach separate verdicts for each defendant.

The first trial last fall saw only one defendant convicted of murder.  That defendant and another were also found guilty of riot, assault, kidnapping and conspiracy. A third defendant was found not guilty on all charges.

Nine more inmates are scheduled to be tried in two groups for their alleged involvement in the takeover. The last trial is expected to stretch through May.