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A jail guard for New York City's Rikers Island unit was arrested Monday in connection with the overheating death of a mentally ill prisoner earlier this year.
Carol Lackner, 34, was stationed in a special jail unit for mentally ill inmates and has been accused of falsifying records to make it seem as if she was checking on inmates when she wasn't. Lackner was tasked with checking on ex-Marine Jerome Murdough, 56, every half-hour in February, when he roasted to death inside his 101-degree cell.
What criminal charges is Lackner facing for Murdough's death?
According to the New York Post, Lackner faces multiple counts of falsifying business records and official misconduct for allegedly covering up her neglectful supervision of Murdough. Falsifying business records is a crime in New York which comes in various degrees, the most serious of which is a Class E felony. But in order to be convicted of falsifying business records in the first degree, Lackner must be shown to have falsified records in order to cover up, aid, or commit another crime.
The other crime, prosecutors will likely argue, was Lackner's official misconduct. In order for jurors to find Lackner guilty of official misconduct, they'll need to determine that she intended to gain a benefit or deprive Murdough of a benefit by refusing to regularly check on him. Although the jury instructions do not address the issue of denying Murdough the benefit of conditions that didn't cook him alive, it's likely a jury will be able to connect those dots.
While Lackner's criminal case is pending, Murdough's family has already settled its claims against the City of New York for his heat-related death. According to the Post, Murdough's mother had planned to file suit against the city but agreed to a $2.25 million settlement before any lawsuit was filed.
Lackner is due in court again on February 17.
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