Tuesday, November 14, 2000

Jail security under review

Razor-blade smuggling raises issue

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — A week after he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the slaying of his ex-wife's new husband, Jeffrey Bornhoeft became the focus of an investigation that raises questions about security at the jail.

        Warren County Sheriff's officials said Monday they want to know how the Mason man smuggled two razor blades into court in his mouth Nov. 7 — the same day a jury acquitted him in the fatal shooting of Jamey Johnson, 23.

        Prosecutors, who failed in their attempt to send Mr. Bornhoeft to death row for shooting Mr. Johnson point-blank as he slept, also are looking into the matter.

        However, Prosecutor Tim Oliver declined to say whether the probe could mean more criminal charges against the 31-year-old father of three.

        Capt. Tim Lamb, the jail warden, put it this way: “At this point, the prosecutor's office is not investigating us. So I would think they are looking for something against him.”

        That doesn't surprise defense lawyer John Quinn.

        “Nothing prosecutors would do in this case would surprise me. There is no limit to their stupidity,” he said.

        Mr. Quinn said he saw Mr. Bornhoeft calmly remove two razor blades from his mouth as he was being led back to a courthouse holding cell on Nov. 7. He handed them to a court security officer and said, “I guess I won't need these,'” Mr. Quinn recalled.

        He said Mr. Bornhoeft — who was led through the courthouse unshackled and uncuffed while on trial — told him he planned to use the blades to kill himself if he was convicted.

        “He said, "That's all I was going to do,'” Mr. Quinn said. Mr. Quinn said prosecutors were aware on Oct. 2, in a psychiatrist's report, that Mr. Bornhoeft claimed to have a razor blade in his jail cell; however, nothing was done. Mr. Quinn said jail officials told him Monday that a razor blade was found in Mr. Bornhoeft's Bible after they searched his cell following a suicide attempt in September.

        Mr. Bornhoeft is being hospitalized at the Dayton Mental Health Center until Wednesday, when he is scheduled for a hearing in Warren County to determine what mental treatment he will require.

        Capt. Lamb said Mr. Bornhoeft admitted to him that he hoarded the blades from disposable razors issued to prisoners so they can shave.

        Inmates must turn in their identification badges as a way of tracking who has the razors, Capt. Lamb said. When the razor is returned, the inmate receives the identification badge back.

        But in the weeks leading up to Mr. Bornhoeft's trial, he apparently twice duped corrections officers.

        “It appears that he would pop the plastic top off the razor, take the razor blade out and put the piece back on top. Then he would put the safety guard back on and smear it with shaving cream to give the appearance there was a blade,” Capt. Lamb said.


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