2015-06-04 / Local & State

Federal Prison Inmate Gets 30 Years For Killing Over Stamps

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) – A man from El Salvador will spend 30 years in prison for killing his cellmate at a federal prison in Pennsylvania over the theft of postage stamps.

Javier Oswaldo Jovel- Aguilar, 37, was sentenced Wednesday night by a federal judge in Williamsport who heard video testimony from other inmates about brutal conditions at the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary during the 12-hour hearing, Pennlive.com reported.

Jovel-Aguilar pleaded guilty to second- degree murder in August in the death of his cellmate, Arnold Smith.

The defendant kicked and stomped cellmate Smith, who was handcuffed at the time, because guards were preparing to move Smith from the cell he shared with Jovel-Aguilar when the attack happened on June 1, 2010.

For their own safety, guards have inmates extend their hands through cell bars to be handcuffed before the guards enter and remove the inmates. Jovel-Aguilar attacked the helpless Smith after he had been handcuffed, but before the guards had entered the cell, prosecutors said. Smith died of his injuries 15 days later at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.

Jovel-Aguilar was serving a sentencing for being in the country illegally when the attack occurred. That sentence expired, but by then he was being held on the murder charge.

Assistant U.S. Attorney George Rocktashel said Jovel Aguilar and Smith had been friends and former members of a prison gang linked to the Mexican mafia before their falling out over the stamps.

Stamps had become a more important part of prison currency after the federal Bureau of Prisons banned cigarettes, Rocktashel said.

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