Sharpened shank found in jail cell
A nine-inch metal broom handle sharpened to a point was found earlier this month in the Custer County Jail cell of the man who was convicted Nov. 2 of shooting Clinton police detective Mike Murley just over a year ago.
That man was of course Alphonso Proa-Rios, 42, also of Clinton. However, he is not yet charged with a crime for possessing the sharpened “shank,” as the weapon is called in court records, but another inmate from Clinton is. That individual is Eric Harper, 37.
Harper has his own lengthy criminal record and is now facing a new charge of possessing contraband – the shank – in a jail or penal institution. It’s his ninth felony charge in Custer County since 2002 with prior convictions including assault with a deadly weapon, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and assault and battery on a police officer.
An affidavit filed Dec. 14 with the latest charge accuses Harper of using the shank to threaten another inmate of the jail, William Postalwait. The affidavit written by Capt. Jeff Maynard quotes Postalwait as writing a note in which he said he fears for his life.
The affidavit quotes him as saying Harper had come into his cell with a knife and another inmate, Bradley Cometsevah, also of Clinton, who started pounding on him with his fists. It quotes Postalwait as saying he was scared and thought they were going to kill him because they had a knife and there were two of them.
Maynard said that on Dec. 16 he was given a copy of a letter written by Cometsevah to his mother in which he admitted beating Postelwait and threatening two other inmates, including his own cousin, whom he allegedly said he was going to beat until the police tasered him.
The affidavit said the sharpened shank was found Dec. 10 in Proa-Rios’ cell during a shakedown of the jail’s E cellblock.
“The shank is a nine-inch piece of metal broom handle with green coating that has been flattened and sharpened to a point on one end,” Maynard wrote. “I collected it from Jail Administrator Jerry Woods (who apparently supervised the shakedown), and it is entered into evidence.”
Following his conviction by a jury in Murley’s shooting, Proa-Rios in November was given two life-in-prison sentences. He apparently was awaiting transfer to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections when the shank was found.
Murley, who was shot in both arms, of course has since retired from the Police Department and is now working as an investigator for the District Attorney’s Office.