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Inmate assault brings year behind bars

8-25-2010 Virginia:

Assaulting a convicted child sex offender at the jail will cost inmate Denver J. Owens a year behind bars, a judge ruled Tuesday in Frederick County District Court.

No matter what happens in three other criminal cases against Owens, Judge W. Milnor Roberts ordered the 20-year-old Frederick man's yearlong punishment for attacking inmate Jonathan M. Bonita run consecutive to any other sentence Owens may get.

Owens faces burglary, assault and violation of probation charges at three hearings in September and October.

On Tuesday, Owens pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in the attack of Bonita on June 24 at the jail, but he declined to offer a statement before sentence was imposed.

Standing beside Assistant State's Attorney Michael J. Moore, Bonita, 19, said a few words, however. The Frederick man told Roberts he was tired of being harassed by other inmates.

"Ever since he hit me, they've been calling me names," Bonita said. "Everybody is calling me a snitch because I brought this to court."

Within 24 hours of arriving at the jail, Bonita was punched twice in the head by Owens, who told him he had read about him and his sex offense conviction in The Frederick News-Post, according to Robin K. Ficker, Bonita's defense attorney.

On June 15, Bonita pleaded guilty to second-degree sex offense for having a 4-year-old girl perform a sex act about two years ago.

On June 23, a judge followed a plea agreement that has Bonita serving 18 months of a 20-year sentence at the Frederick County Adult Detention Center.

After Owens attacked him, Bonita asked jail authorities to keep him in protective custody, where he remains, Cpl. Jennifer Bailey said Tuesday.

Assistant Public Defender Roland Brooks told Roberts that Owens was willing to accept his punishment for assaulting Bonita.

"He does understand the error of his ways," Brooks said.

In addition to Roberts' sentence, the sheriff's office, which runs the detention center, imposed sanctions against Owens in-house as well.

As the result of an in-house hearing, Owens spent 30 days on the disciplinary block, and he lost 30 days of visitation and five days of good conduct credit, Bailey said. ..Source.. Kate Leckie, News-Post Staff

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