Crown claims deadly prisoner beating was so loud it could be heard on jail's lower floor

A London jury heard in the Crown's opening address that the pandemonium of the hour-long fatal beating of inmate Adam Kargus by his cellmate Anthony George was so loud that an inmate claimed he could hear it on a lower floor of the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre.

Former jailors Stephen Jurkus and Leslie Lonsbary are accused of failing to protect inmate Adam Kargus

Former jailors Stephen Jurkus and Leslie Lonsbary have pleaded not guilty to failing to provide the necessaries of life in connection with the death of Adam Kargus. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

A London jury heard in the Crown's opening address that the pandemonium of the hour-long fatal beating of inmate Adam Kargus by his cellmate Anthony George was so loud that an inmate claimed he could hear it on a lower floor of the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre.  

It was what Crown lawyer Fraser Kelly told the the seven-man, five woman jury presiding over the case of two former employees of the London jail who allegedly did nothing to respond when Kargus was being murdered on Halloween night 2013. 

Former EMDC supervisor Stephen Jurkus and former corrections officer Leslie Lonsbary have pleaded not guilty to failing to provide the necessaries of life in connection with Kargus' death. 

Kelly told jurors that Lonsbary, who was the guard on duty the night Kargus died, was supposed to do a walk around every 30 minutes in the area of the jail where the two men were locked up, but failed to do so during the hour-long beating in which Kargus died. 

'Adam was screaming. It was very loud.'

Adam Kargus, 29, was beaten to death by his cellmate in 2013. (Deb Abrams)

"It was during that time Adam was screaming. It was very loud," Kelly told the jurors. "You will hear evidence from an inmate that was one floor down that said he could hear it."

At the time of his death, Kargus was serving a 90-day sentence for fraud and shared cell number three on unit six left at the EMDC with Anthony George, a man who was serving time for aggravated assault. 

The first sign of trouble, according to Kelly, was when George placed Kargus in a 14-second chokehold, which was caught on a security camera inside the jail the afternoon before Kargus died. 

Later, when the nurse at the jail was doing her rounds with Greg Langford, another guard, to deliver inmates' medication, she reported the strong smell of alcohol inside the two mens' cell, describing the odour akin to "a still," according to Kelly. 

It was reported to the control room, where it was noted on a whiteboard that in cell three there was a possible "brew," which is prison slang for a makeshift fermented beverage created by inmates. 

The control room was where guard Leslie Lonsbary was working that night and was about to take over from Langford, who was nearing the end of his shift. 

Kelly said Langford also reported to the manager's office, where former supervisor Stephen Jurkus was on-duty.

'George was high profile'

Anthony George spoke with The Fifth Estate after he pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of fellow inmate Adam Kargus. (CBC)

"Mister Jurkus, he's a manager, he was never in that control room to see that note about the brew," Kelly said, noting that Langford went to the manager's office where Jurkus worked and spoke to him about it. 

Kelly told jurors that managers have the power to move prisoners into isolation within the jail's segregation unit, but Jurkus never did that night.

Even though Kelly argues Jurkus knew "George was high profile, of intimidating size, intimidating vocally and action-wise sometimes."

Kelly also told the jury that Jurkus made no notes of the brew in the supervisor's logbook and did not move George to segregation.

Jurkus told police that there was no room in segregation, Kelly said, even though jail records show there was room in the unit, which had 14 prisoners in the 15 solitary cells available. 

That night, Anthony George proceeded to beat Adam Kargus to death. 

Kelly told jurors, that despite Kargus' screams and that the room where Lonsbary was working was only 45 feet from his cell, with the door from the hallway wide open, Lonsbary only left the control room once during the hour-long beating.

Kelly alleges Lonsbary came out and then got seven feet away from the cell, before he turned around and went back, never going into the unit where the fatal beating was taking place. 

"Shortly thereafter, he closed the door," Kelly said. 

Kargus' body had 32 visible injuries

Later that night, Kelly said Lonsbary did walk past cell three several times and noted to jurors that he did so "without breaking his stride."

The next morning, Kargus was discovered in a nearby communal shower after being moved out of his cell by George with the help other inmates.

Kargus' body had 32 visible injuries from the beating, according to Kelly. 

Kargus could have died from a number of those injuries, including brain, facial and neck trauma. Kelly told the jurors that had Kargus survived, "he would have been in a vegetative state." 

Kelly then called the crown's first witness Tuesday, Sergeant Cam Halliday, a London Police Service investigator who examined Kargus' murder in 2013. 

Halliday led jurors through several videos taken from security cameras in the jail that night, including video of the nurse delivering medicine, video of George's 14-second stranglehold on Kargus and the video that showed some kind of activity going on inside cell number three the night Kargus died. 

Halliday's testimony continues Wednesday. The trial is expected to last four weeks. 

About the Author

Colin Butler

Video Journalist

Colin Butler is a veteran CBC reporter who's worked in Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and London, Ont. Email: colin.butler@cbc.ca