SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) - According to United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner, Grant Morgan Bigley, 24, and Ryan Joel Zejdlik, 38, both of Herlong, pleaded guilty today to assaulting another inmate and conspiring to commit an assault.
According to court documents, on July 5, 2011, three federal inmates (including Bigley and Zejdlik) assaulted a fourth inmate while in a recreation cage at the Herlong Federal Correctional Institution in Lassen County. The assault resulted in the victim being taken to a hospital in Reno, Nevada, by life flight. Nearly every bone in the victim’s face was broken and much of his skull was crushed. Medical personnel on the scene saw “grey matter” through one of the depressed cracks in the victim’s skull.
Based on a video, the initial assault took about 49 seconds. It occurred after all four men were locked into the recreational cage together. The guard removed the handcuffs from Bigley, Zejdlik, and the third assailant through a slot in the cage door. All three men immediately attacked the victim in unison once the handcuffs were taken off the last man. The victim's hands were still cuffed when the assault began and remained cuffed throughout the assault.
Landing blows with their hands and feet, the three men quickly overpowered the victim and took him to the ground in the corner of the cage. The lone guard called for help as soon as the assault began. When the other guards arrived, they entered the recreation cage and detained all three assailants. The victim was given immediate medical treatment.
Co-defendant Erwin Shane Stamper is currently in federal custody in another state, awaiting trial in a separate prison assault case. He will be transferred to Sacramento following resolution of that case.
Bigley and Zejdlik are set to be sentenced by United States District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller on April 30, 2012. The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy to assault is five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and a three-year term of supervised release.
The maximum statutory penalty for assault resulting in serious bodily injury is 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and a three-year term of supervised release. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.