CLEVELAND - An inmate who testified against five others involved in a deadly prison riot lied to help prosecutors convict the uprising's leaders, another inmate said in a sworn statement.
The inmate's statement said Roger Snodgrass, who was released from prison in September, lied to save himself from death row.
Emanuel Newell, who is still serving a sentence at Toledo Correctional Institution, said that he and Snodgrass talked about the 1993 riot while at the Toledo prison together and that Snodgrass said he lied about one inmate in particular, George Skatzes, who is on death row in the slaying of guard Robert Vallandingham.
“Snodgrass told me what he did to save his own life,” Newell said in the affidavit. “He said, ‘I lied on George. It was his life or mine.' ”
Snodgrass' testimony also helped send inmates Jason Robb, James Were, Carlos Sanders to death row in the guard's death.
Robb's attorney told The Plain Dealer that he hopes the statement could help his client's appeal.
“If, in fact, Snodgrass made those statements, then they need to be investigated,” said the attorney, Michael Benza. “If he made those statements, there needs to be an inquiry into his role, not just about what he said before he was released, but his involvement during the riot.”
The other three inmates convicted in the guard's death also have appeals pending.
Snodgrass and Newell were both at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville during the 11-day riot in April 1993 at the maximum-security prison. Nine inmates were killed along with Vallandingham.
According to court documents, Snodgrass beat Newell with a baseball bat during the riot, because he feared Newell was planning to attack him and others.
Snodgrass was not charged with beating Newell, but he did plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of another inmate who was stabbed with a homemade ice pick.
He also was charged with kidnapping two guards during the uprising, but those charges were dropped in exchange for his testimony. Snodgrass could have been in prison until 2019 but he was released and now lives in Cincinnati.
Snodgrass could not be reached for comment. There is no listing for him in the Cincinnati area.
Prosecutors have insisted that Snodgrass was truthful and that he was consistent in his statements.
Mark Piepmeier, the chief prosecutor in the Lucasville cases, said “We never caught him in a lie.”