A jury found a former Rikers correction officer guilty Thursday of beating an ill inmate to death and then trying to cover up the crime.
The 12-member jury deliberated only four hours before deeming Brian Coll guilty on all five counts relating to Ronald Spear’s death on Dec. 19, 2012.
The perpetrator faces up to life in prison and will be sentenced April 24.
Coll, 46, repeatedly kicked Spear in the head after a confrontation at the infirmary — ultimately causing the 52-year-old’s heart to stop.
Coll then colluded with other correction officers to make Spear seem like the aggressor — such as by falsely claiming the infirm inmate came at Coll with a cane, prosecutors said.
Spear was in Rikers waiting for his trial on a burglary charge. Cops collared him in September 2012 after he tried to buy medicine at a Duane Reade in Harlem, a source told the Daily News.
Spear had forgotten he was banned from that store because of a prior shoplifting charge, prompting the arrest, the source said.
Coll wasn’t just remorseless, but “proud of what he did” — even keeping a framed a Village Voice article about Spear’s death in his bedroom, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brooke Cucinella told jurors during her closing argument on Wednesday.
“Let’s call it what it is: a trophy,” Cucinella said.
“The last hateful words that Ronald Spear would ever hear — ‘This is what you get for f—ing with me, remember I did this'” Cucinella said Coll told Spear.
Two other correction officers accused of holding Spear down during the beating have already copped to hiding details about the incident.
“We waited a long time but justice has been done,” Margarette Daniels, Spear’s stepmother, said after the verdict. “Now we can go on with our lives.”
“My son can rest in peace,” she added.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara praised the quick verdict, saying “A unanimous jury in Manhattan federal court affirmed that the protections of the U.S. Constitution extend into the walls of our prisons, including Rikers Island.”
Coll’s lawyer, Sam Schmidt, said they planned to appeal the conviction. Schmidt described Coll’s demeanor by saying, “Our client basically remains the same — he’s sort of numbed.”
He also took issue with prosecutors’ strategy — telling reporters that it tugged on the heart strings at a time when jail violence was at the forefront of public discussion.
“The manner that the government developed their case and argued their case to the jury was much more based on sympathy than the facts,” Schmidt said.
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