Video shows former guard closed control room door despite evidence of unusual activity in cells

A split-screen video taken the night Adam Kargus was beaten to death inside his locked cell by another inmate at the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre shows the guard on-duty closed the door to the control room, despite evidence something unusual was taking place inside the cells.

Stephen Jurkus and Leslie Lonsbary have pleaded not guilty to failing to protect inmate Adam Kargus

A split-screen video taken the night Adam Kargus was beaten to death inside his locked cell by another inmate at the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre shows the guard on-duty closed the door to the control room, despite evidence something unusual was taking place inside the cells. 

Jurors in the trial of two former Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre employees, charged with failing to adequately protect Kargus, spent the morning watching security camera footage taken from inside the jail the night he died. 

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

It is believed to be the first time Ontario corrections officials have ever been charged with such a crime.

Kargus was killed by his cellmate Anthony George on Halloween night in 2013. George is currently is serving a life sentence for second-degree murder.

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

The video shows, despite apparent activity in cell three where Kargus and George were locked up together, there was almost no response from the nearby office control room where Lonsbary was on-duty. 

The jury has already heard the control room was only 45 feet away and that the pandemonium during the beating was so loud an inmate claimed he could hear it on a lower floor.

The video, which did not record audio, shows another guard, Dan Tyler, visited the control room where Lonsbary was working and then exit toward the stairwell.

Five minutes later, a door knob can be seen in the control room's door frame, which the Crown argues is Lonsbary closing the door.

Fifteen minutes later, the camera shows the door is still closed, even though on-camera, there is clearly activity in cell three, where Kargus was being murdered. In the two cells next door, the Crown argues inmates were also trying to alert the guards through the windows of their cells.

It isn't until about 8:50 on the video, about 35 minutes after guard Dan Tyler first visited Lonsbary in the control room, that Lonsbary finally emerges. 

Video footage captured the day after Adam Kargus was killed. Anthony George is seen here moving the bloody mattress from his cell to another cell, all undetected by EMDC guards. (EDMC surveillance footage)

He can then be seen walking out of the control room, down the hallway and off-camera. Eleven minutes later, the jury can see Lonsbary return.

On the left screen, the other guard, Dan Tyler appears a moment later in the room outside the cell where Adam Kargus was being murdered.

"Mister George has appeared in the window of cell three," London Police Sergeant Cameron Halliday testified Wednesday. He's the investigator who examined Kargus' murder in 2013 and was leading the jury through the video evidence. 

Tyler then meets Lonsbary in the hallway and both guards return to the control room. 

"Mister Lonsbary, I would say, did not break stride" - London Police Sergeant Cameron Halliday

"That was the first security round?" Crown prosecutor Fraser Kelly asked the policeman.

"Yes," Halliday testified. "There were others." 

In his opening address to the jury, Kelly told the court that guards at the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre are supposed to make their rounds approximately every 30 minutes. 

The video shown in court illustrates that it isn't until about 10 p.m., two hours after the deadly beating began, that Lonsbary walks by the cell Kargus shared with George on one of the regularly scheduled sweeps of the room performed by guards.

While the video was being shown to the jury, Crown prosecutor Fraser Kelly asked Sergeant Cameron Halliday during his testimony whether he thought Lonsbary even broke his stride when he passed in front of cell three. 

"Mister Lonsbary, I would say, did not break stride," Halliday told the court. 

Defence asks police investigator about sound

During cross-examination, Ron Ellis, the lawyer for Leslie Lonsbary, questioned Halliday about Lonsbary's absence, which the video shows Lonsbary was off-camera for about 10 minutes, suggesting he may have left unit six of the jail.

Halliday said that the two guards, Lonsbary and Tyler, were also responsible for patrolling two other sections of the building on the second floor during the night shift and noted that when Lonsbary appeared to leave, he was likely doing a sweep of sections four and five.

"The two men would have patrolled four and five," Ellis said. "It's not like nothing is happening at that time."

"That's correct," Halliday said.

When Ellis asked Halliday whether Lonsbary could control what he saw on the monitors tied to the security cameras and whether he could manipulate the picture, Halliday said he didn't know.

Ellis also asked about the sound of the beating, which the Crown has noted was so loud, it was heard by an inmate on a lower floor.

"You didn't take sound measurements to see how the sound would have [travelled to the control room]," Ellis asked.

"No, we didn't," Halliday said.

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