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Prosecutor: Inmate considered Geoghan 'a prize'

Two probes into prison killing planned, he says

John Geoghan was serving a nine-to-10-year sentence when he was killed.
John Geoghan was serving a nine-to-10-year sentence when he was killed.

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CNN's Jason Carroll reports suspect plotted Geoghan's killing for more than a month.
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Prosecutor details death of defrocked priest John Geoghan.
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CNN's Michael Okwu reports on Geoghan's killing.
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Joseph L. Druce, accused of strangling defrocked priest John Geoghan, is a reputed member of the Aryan Nations neo-Nazi group.

He was convicted of murder in the death in June 1988 of George Rollo, 51, a bus driver who had picked Druce up hitchhiking.

Druce, who then went by his birth name, Darrin E. Smiledge, attacked Rollo, who was gay, stuffed him in the trunk of Rollo's car, drove him to a wooded area and strangled him, according to court documents.

Smiledge attacked the bus driver when Rollo made a sexual advance, the documents say. An insanity defense failed, and Smiledge was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Smiledge also pleaded guilty to sending fake anthrax from prison to lawyers with Jewish-sounding names and was sentenced to an additional 37 months in prison.

-- The Associated Press

BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- The inmate accused of strangling defrocked Catholic priest John Geoghan in prison Saturday considered him "a prize" and plotted his move for more than a month, the prosecutor handling the case said Monday.

State officials said they would conduct two investigations into the killing.

One investigation will look into the circumstances surrounding Geoghan's death, Worcester District Attorney John Conte said. Another probe by an independent panel appointed by Gov. Mitt Romney will focus on whether prison procedures and staffing should be changed.

"Our system of justice is not and should not be a system of frontier justice," Conte told reporters.

The attack at Souza-Baranowski Prison outside Boston raised questions about why Geoghan, 68, who was in protective custody at his own request, was housed a few cells away from Joseph Druce, who is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for killing a gay man 15 years ago.

Geoghan was convicted in January 2002 of molesting a boy in a swimming pool a decade earlier and sentenced to nine to 10 years in prison.

More than 130 people have accused him of sexual abuse during his 30-year career in six parishes. Geoghan was defrocked in 1998.

Conte said Druce, 37, "has a longstanding phobia, it appears, towards homosexuals of any kind. I'm not a psychologist and I'm not a psychiatrist, but I would say that he's filled with longstanding hate."

Conte said Druce meticulously planned the attack.

At about 11:48 a.m., all 22 cells on the block were opened so prisoners could return their food trays to a common area, Conte said. Four minutes later, they were closed.

"However, Joseph Druce, the defendant, who had been planning this murder for over a month undetected, returned to Geoghan's before the 11:52 close."

Druce was carrying, hidden from view, a T-shirt and a pair of socks, Conte said. In his pocket was a book.

"He then stuffed a half of a book into the upper track of the cell door so that it could not be opened electronically, and in the lower track he placed a nail clipper and a toothbrush."

Druce cut pages from the book "just to fit the size of that track," Conte said.

Using the shirt, Druce tied Geoghan's hands behind his back, threw him to the floor, took the socks that he had stretched for the occasion to use as a ligature and began to strangle Geoghan, Conte said.

Using Geoghan's shoe, Druce twisted the socks like a tourniquet, then took a pillowcase and wrapped it around Geoghan's neck "to strengthen the strangulation," Conte said.

At that point, Conte said, another inmate reported the disturbance to a guard.

"The correctional officer on duty came running to the cell, realized that the door was jammed and immediately called on his radio for help," Conte said.

By the time the guards got the door open, seven to eight minutes had elapsed, Conte said.

A nurse was called "who tried to treat Father Geoghan," and he was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:17 p.m., Conte said.

An autopsy by Boston's chief medical examiner Monday ruled the cause of death to be ligature strangulation and blunt chest trauma -- broken ribs and a punctured lung -- "and the manner of death as a homicide," Conte said.

Conte said his investigation would look into whether negligence or anyone else was involved.

"Mr. Druce himself said he was the only one involved, but we're not taking that at face value."

Sex Crimes
Crime, Law and Justice

Conte described Druce, who is being held separately from other inmates, as "extremely cooperative."

Asked if the prisoner was proud, Conte said, "Absolutely. No question about that ... He looked upon Father Geoghan as a prize."

Conte said guards later found that Druce was carrying a razor and had planned to use it.

"He never did, but he certainly had an intent to do so."

The case will be taken to a grand jury in September, Conte said. "We're seeking an indictment for murder."

Because Druce is serving a life term and Massachusetts does not have a death penalty, it's not clear what further penalties could be levied against the convict.

Before the killing, Druce had just been released from "the hole," enforced segregation meted out by prison officials as a punishment. Conte said he did not know what precipitated it.

District attorney: Geoghan had felt secure

Geoghan had told visitors he felt secure in the prison block, where other pedophiles are housed, Conte said.

A number of issues have emerged as potential contributors to the attack, Conte said, citing the simultaneous opening of all 22 cells and the fact that only one of the two guards was on the block. The other had taken a prisoner to the nurse's station.

Joseph Druce is serving a life sentence for murder.
Joseph Druce is serving a life sentence for murder.

"Whether or not these are violations of policy and whether they cry out for more personnel or not I think are something we're going to have to look into," Conte said.

Geoghan's 2002 conviction pertained to only one case, in which he was charged with indecent assault and battery against a 10-year-old boy.

The boy was a college student when he testified that Geoghan reached under his swimming suit and grabbed his buttocks while the two were in a pool at the Waltham Boys and Girls Club in 1991.

Last September, the Boston Archdiocese paid $10 million to settle a suit by 86 plaintiffs who said Geoghan sexually assaulted them.

A number of other lawsuits remain pending. Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents 147 alleged victims of Geoghan, said at least some of the cases would go forward.

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