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Inmate faces life sentence in assault on guard

Jerome Williams, a Rochester drug dealer described as one of the state's most problematic inmates, could spend the rest of his life behind bars if convicted in Buffalo this summer.

Erie County Judge Timothy J. Drury confirmed Monday that Williams, 41, is accused of assaulting a Wende Correctional Facility guard on Dec. 12, 2003.

Drury said he has appointed Nicholas W. Hicks to serve as Williams' attorney for his jury trial, which is expected to begin June 26. On Friday, Williams was denied the right to serve as his own attorney in another case involving a charge of felony aggravated harassment. Since 1991, Williams has been serving 29 years in prison in the Rochester drug case and two other crimes committed behind bars.

Williams, currently the subject of a grand jury investigation into accusations he attempted to jimmy locks in the special housing unit at Attica Correctional Facility, faces trial in Buffalo for tossing human waste into the face of a Wende Correctional Facility guard Dec. 12, 2003, while being served breakfast.

Last week, Drury denied Hicks' request to keep Williams incarcerated in the Erie County Holding Center in downtown Buffalo so he could confer regularly with his client.

Drury said Monday that Williams sleeps on a ceramic prison bed because he has a history of breaking apart metal beds to make weapons, describing him as "certainly one of the most problematic" prisoners in the state penal system.

Williams is assigned to the Special Housing Unit at the state's Clinton Correctional Facility but was transferred temporarily to Attica for the start of pretrial hearings before Drury months ago.

Drury said he has directed state prison officials to keep Williams in Attica this week so Hicks can meet with him there.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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