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Prosecutors: Long prison term for guard in Rikers death

Prosecutors on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, asked that

Prosecutors on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, asked that former Rikers guard Brian Coll, right, be handed a lengthy prison sentence after his conviction in connection with the 2012 death of inmate Ronald Spear, left.

Manhattan federal prosecutors on Monday called for a sentence of close to 30 years in prison for Brian Coll, the former Rikers Island jail guard from Smithtown convicted of violating the civil rights of an inmate who later died from kicks to the head while he was restrained.

Coll, 48, was also convicted of obstruction of justice for trying to cover up details of the 2012 assault that led to inmate Ronald Spear’s death. He is scheduled for sentencing Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska, and has asked for four to six years.

The government, however, said that was not enough, citing Coll’s lack of remorse and behavior after the incident, which escalated to violence after Spear shoved and kicked Coll in an effort to get past him to see a doctor at the jail infirmary.

“After Ronald Spear’s death, the defendant boasted to another correction officer that he should get a teardrop tattoo, in recognition of the fact that he had murdered someone,” prosecutors wrote. “Coll kept a trophy of his crime, framing a picture of Mr. Spear and an article regarding his death, which Coll kept in a prominent place in his bedroom for years.”

Spear, 52, was awaiting trial on a burglary charge and suffered from diabetes, heart disease and a renal disorder. Lawyers for Coll, in a memo to Preska, called for a shorter sentence, citing stressful conditions at Rikers to argue that the crime resembled criminally negligent homicide.

“Mr. Coll’s offense was neither premeditated, nor calculated,” the defense contended. “Rather, it constituted an emotional, spontaneous — but nevertheless eventually unlawful — reaction to the physical confrontation initiated by Mr. Spear in the hallway.”

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