ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A former death row inmate convicted of murder and rape says his civil rights were violated when he was severely beaten in a New Mexico prison, according to a lawsuit.
The beating came when prison officials placed Michael Guzman, then 48, with “known enemies” following a 2011 transfer to the Northeast Correction Facility in Clayton, said a federal lawsuit filed by his attorney earlier this month.
Patrick Allen, an attorney representing the state Department of Corrections, denied the allegations in court documents. State officials “acted in good faith and without evil motive, malice, recklessness or indifference” toward Guzman while he was at the Northeast Correction Facility, court papers said.
According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque, prison officials “failed to heed warnings” that Guzman’s life would be in danger because of the transfer.
Prison officials “placed him in a facility, where he had enemies, didn’t properly place him, properly protect him, because as soon as he got there, (Guzman) was almost killed…” the lawsuit said.
In addition, the lawsuit claimed after the severe beating by other inmates, Guzman was nearly knocked unconscious and later he spent weeks recovering in a hospital.
The lawsuit, which also names Clayton Mayor Jack Chosvig and Corrections Secretary Gregg Mercantel, seeks unspecified damages and cost for medical bills.
Guzman, then 19, was convicted of abducting two young students from near the University of New Mexico, raping and fatally stabbing one and trying to kill the other. He was sentenced to death but his death sentence was commuted to life by then-Gov. Toney Anaya in 1986.
The New Mexico Parole Board denied Guzman’s request for parole in 2011 after hearing from a surviving victim.
Guzman gained national attention last year after several media outlets reported that he has gotten married multiple times and fathered several children while serving a life sentence. Under New Mexico policy, some prison inmates are allowed private visits with family members.