CBC News: ‘I could hear that boy screaming ‘Help, help, screaming for his life,’ Mel Albert told the court
A former inmate at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre told a London courtroom Monday he could hear “ear-piecing” screams on the detention level above him on the night Adam Kargus was fatally beaten by his cellmate.
Mel Albert testified at the trial of two workers at the notorious jail — Stephen Jurkus and Leslie Lonsbary — who are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life in Kargus’s death.
“I could hear that boy screaming ‘Help, help, screaming for his life,'” said Albert, who was in a cell on a level below where Kargus was being held.
Albert, a career criminal with multiple convictions that stretch back to the mid 1980s, said he tried to alert guards about the screams, which he said were easily heard through the jail’s heating vents.
Albert was questioned by defence lawyers for the accused, who asked about his extensive criminal record.
“I really never respected the courts,” the man admitted. “But today, I’m here on my own.”
Kargus died after being beaten by Anthony George in the cell the men shared on Halloween night in 2013.
In 2017 George pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Kargus’s death.
Earlier Monday, the cross-examination continued of former corrections officer Greg Langford who was working at EMDC up to 8 p.m. on that night.
Langford, 60, was asked about an incident captured on the prison’s security cameras that shows George grasping Kargus in a choke hold from behind while Langford looks on.
The incident happened in a common area outside the cell on the afternoon of Oct. 31. The video played in court Monday shows Kargus frantically tapping George’s arm, a sign of capitulation.
Langford testified that he ordered George to release Kargus. The choke continued for a few moments before George eventually released him. Langford would later tell police that the choke appeared to put Kargus in “distress” and because he was “turning red” before George released him.
Langford said he told George to release Kargus “four or five times.”
Langford told the court he didn’t file a report about the incident, because he thought it was a practical joke.
Jurkus’s lawyer Patrick Ducharme questioned Langford about this.
“That’s not horseplay, that’s an assault, isn’t it?” Ducharme asked.
“No, I don’t believe so,” Langford said.
“Mr. Kargus wasn’t showing any signs of consent to be choked, was he?” Ducharme asked
“No, he was not,” Langford responded.
Ducharme asked Langford if he asked Kargus if he thought it was a joke after George released him..
Langford said “No, I asked him if he was alright.”
“And how did Kargus answer that question?” Ducharme asked.
“He looked at me like I had two heads and said he was fine,” Langford told the court.
George known as a ‘heavy’
Langford denied a suggestion by Ducharme that he didn’t report the incident, and a handful of other clear breaches of jail rules by George that day, because he was afraid of George. The court heard that among both guards and prisoners, George was known at EMDC as a “heavy,” prison parlance for a dominant prisoner known for violent acts.
Ducharme also suggested Langford was in a hurry to leave as his shift ended at 8 p.m., a claim Langford denied.
Langford was originally charged in the case but the charge was withdrawn. He later testified at a preliminary hearing into Kargus’s death.
Langford was fired from his job at EMDC almost a year after Kargus died.
The trial is expected to continue Tuesday with the playing of an audio tape of an interview that London Police Service Det. Amanda Pfeffer did with Jurkus five days after Kargus died.