April 27, 2005

Druce says he was beaten by guards

Telegram & Gazette


WORCESTER— The inmate accused of murdering defrocked pedophile priest John J. Geoghan told a judge yesterday that he was beaten by correction officers and denied immediate medical attention after being removed from the victim’s cell on the day of the killing.

Joseph L. Druce, charged with murder in the Aug. 23, 2003, strangulation and beating death of the 68-year-old Mr. Geoghan at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, recounted his removal from the defrocked priest’s cell during a Worcester Superior Court hearing on a defense motion to dismiss the charge against him.

Mr. Druce testified that he did not put up any resistance after being handcuffed and shackled by guards and led around a corner from Mr. Geoghan’s cell to a “blind spot,” outside the range of prison surveillance cameras. “That’s when I had my head just pummeled,” Mr. Druce said. He testified he was taken to the prison’s health services unit, where he said he was denied pain medication until after he spoke to state police investigators.

Mr. Druce allegedly told police he killed Mr. Geoghan, who was serving time for molesting a 10-year-old boy, “to save the children.” At the time of the killing, Mr. Druce was serving a life sentence for the 1988 murder of a man he believed was gay.

Still pending is a motion to suppress Mr. Druce’s statement to investigators in the Geoghan slaying. His lawyer, John H. LaChance, maintains that Mr. Druce was “in pain, suffering from a major mental illness and in a manic state” at the time of the police interrogation.

The motion to dismiss — the subject of yesterday’s hearing — is based on a claim that prison officials have interfered with Mr. Druce’s right to a fair trial through “a pattern of misconduct and coercion.” Mr. Druce’s claims include allegations that unreasonable restrictions have been placed on his communications with his lawyer and that legal materials have been removed from his cell and not returned. He has also alleged that he was subjected to harassment for rejecting the advice of a prison official that he plead guilty to the murder of Mr. Geoghan and seek a transfer to an out-of-state prison, “get out of Dodge,” as he put it.

Mr. Druce told Judge Timothy S. Hillman yesterday that he was denied face-to-face meetings with Mr. LaChance during his stay at the Souza -Baranowski Correctional Center, which is located on the Lancaster-Shirley line. He said he was reluctant to discuss defense strategy with Mr. LaChance via telephone in the prison’s “no-contact” visiting area for fear that the attorney-client conversations were being monitored.

The hearing was scheduled to resume today.

Posted by kshaw at April 27, 2005 07:04 AM