THE BRONX - Ten of 12 Rikers Island prisoners accused in the death of an 18-year-old inmate were arraigned Wednesday in the Bronx Hall of Justice.
Joseph Hutchinson, Anquant Bryant and Shaddon Beswick have been charged with manslaughter, while the others face multiple charges, including conspiracy and gang assault that allegedly resulted in the death of Christopher Robinson, who was brutally beaten in his cell while serving a term for parole violation last October.
Beswick?s attorney Xavier Donaldson insists his client is innocent.
?He feels like anyone else who was charged with a serious crime,? Donaldson says. ?He's anxious to face these charges.?
The prosecutors called the suspects ?foot soldiers? in reference to an organized group of inmates that fought and targeted prisoners at the encouragement of three corrections officers.
Following a four-month investigation, the Bronx district attorney?s office discovered that corrections officers Denise Albright, Khalid Nelson and Michael McKie organized a fight club for inmates known as ?The Program.?
Investigators believe it was Robinson?s refusal to take part in the fights that lead to his killing.
The inmates? defense attorneys claim their clients were taking orders from the correction officers.
?When you are in a position where people have real authority over your physical well being, many people are put in a choice where they don't have a choice but to cooperate,? says attorney Sam Braverman.