Inside This Nevada Prison, a Brawl, Gunfire, a Mystery

Lawyers for 2 inmates allege High Desert guards set up fight
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 27, 2015 9:27 AM CDT
Inside This Nevada Prison, a Brawl, Gunfire, a Mystery
This April 15, 2015 file photo shows guard towers at High Desert State Prison in Indian Springs, Nev., one of Nevada’s toughest prisons.   (John Locher)

What happened in one of Nevada's toughest prisons is somewhat murky, but this much is certain: Two handcuffed High Desert State Prison inmates brawled in a hallway, and one ended up dead from several shotgun blasts. The other was declared guilty of murder, even though he never touched a gun. Prison officials acknowledged the death in November with only a short statement, and for months never mentioned a weapon was involved or that it had been fired by a trainee guard. Since then, the mystery of the shooting in a segregation unit has only deepened, with attorneys for both inmates now accusing prison guards of instigating the fight to set up a gladiator-style contest and then trying to cover it up by blaming the surviving prisoner.

A report by the trainee guard dated the day after the Nov. 12 incident describes how he warned Andrew Arevalo, 24, and Carlos Manuel Perez Jr., 28, to stop fighting, fired one blank, issued more warnings, and then fired three live rounds down the hall. Perez died of gunshot wounds to the head, neck, chest, and arms; Arevalo suffered similar wounds but survived. Prison administrators initially sentenced Arevalo to 18 months in the "the hole" for the murder and associated charges; last week, months after Arevalo was put in isolation, prison officials withdrew the murder and assault allegations after objections from his lawyer and repeated questions from the AP. The unnamed three guards remain on paid leave. Read much more on the case, and High Desert guards' history of using gunfire to control the 4,200 inmates, here. (Read more Nevada stories.)

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