By Alana Melanson
CLINTON -- A Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center inmate who allegedly beat another inmate to death, causing head and facial injuries so severe that he was "almost unrecognizable," was held without bail after his arraignment Monday morning in Clinton District Court.
Michael F. Freeman, 39, is the second inmate charged in the murder of William Sires, 72, who was serving a life sentence in the 1973 shooting death of his mother, Anna Sires.
According to court documents, Freeman was one of three inmates who colluded to trap Sires in a cell and beat him to death Aug. 12.
Another inmate, Allan Erazo, 27, was also held without bail after his arraignment on a murder charge Friday.
The third inmate, Chad Connors, 38, formerly of Avon, has also been charged with murder and is set to be arraigned Friday, according to Paul Jarvey, a spokesman for Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.
According to a court officer, Freeman's arraignment lasted only a few minutes before the next court date was set for Oct. 29 for a pretrial hearing.
According to court documents, prison surveillance video shows Sires, aided by the use of a cane, walking laps around a portion of the prison last Tuesday, about 1:30 p.m., when he and Freeman became involved in a verbal confrontation. That incident escalated into a physical altercation but was quickly broken up by other inmates.
As Sires continued walking his laps, Freeman appeared to enlist the help of other inmates. A few minutes later, the two exchanged words again, but Sires continued walking. Freeman and the other inmates then headed toward a cell, with Connors staying outside to act as a lookout.
Several moments later, the court document states, Erazo is seen violently ambushing Sires from behind and pulling him into the cell. Erazo immediately leaves, and Connors then pulls the curtain shut, obstructing the view, and walks away. Several moments later, another inmate inside the cell exits, leaving Freeman and Sires alone inside the cell for about 30 minutes.
At some point during the attack, an inmate requests that corrections officers close the door to the cell holding Freeman and Sires, locking them inside together.
At 2:01 p.m., a corrections officer making rounds discovers a bloodied Sires in the cell, with Freeman still there.
The document states that Freeman, Erazo and Connors "collectively conspired and executed a plan to ambush, attack, kidnap and force Sires into Cell 23 where he was ultimately beaten and killed."
An autopsy determined the cause of death was blunt-force trauma to the head, but that asphyxiation due to severe cranial injuries and a damaged airway passage also likely played a role, showcasing "the extreme atrocity of the attack."
Video surveillance did not capture what happened inside the cell.
This is not the first time Freeman has assaulted another inmate at Souza-Baranowski, according to Jarvey.
Freeman was also charged with armed assault with intent to murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in the stabbing in October 2009 of an inmate at the prison, he said. That inmate was stabbed multiple times by Freeman and another inmate, according to reports at the time.
Freeman pleaded guilty in that case in May 2012 and was sentenced to 8-12 years in prison, Jarvey said, but was already serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the murder in June 23, 1995, of a 65-year-old Avon man during a home invasion.
According to reports at that time, Freeman, then of Brockton, was one of three young men to take part in the murder of Philip Meskinis, a disabled arborist. After breaking into Meskinis' home, Freeman slashed him in the throat and stabbed him 27 times as he lay in bed.
Patrick Morse of Easton pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. Leonard Stanley, formerly of Middleboro, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 16-20 years in prison.
Freeman's attorney admitted his client broke into the home of Meskinis and stabbed him. But he argued his client was insane at the time.
He said Freeman snapped and lost control when he slashed and stabbed Meskinis in a fit of rage because the 65-year-old victim raped him years earlier.
Freeman's case received national attention when Morse bragged that they were "natural born killers," referencing the 1994 Oliver Stone film of the same name.
Then-Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole used the case as evidence that Hollywood movies and the entertainment industry can inspire violent acts, as referenced in the Congressional Record of June 27, 1995.
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