AP

Sheriff says prison reform advocate committed ‘evil act’

Jul 19, 2022, 12:14 PM | Updated: 12:25 pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A prominent prison reform advocate committed an “evil act” when he disguised himself as a construction worker to hide guns, handcuff keys and hacksaw blades inside the walls of an under-construction Tennessee jail, Nashville Sheriff Daron Hall testified in court Tuesday.

Alex Friedmann is charged with vandalism over $250,000 in a case that Deputy District Attorney Amy Hunter told the jury in opening statements would sound like a “made up case from a Hollywood movie.”

Hunter said Friedmann had already been going in the building for several months when a sheriff’s office official first noticed in December 2019 that two keys were missing from a set of keys at the new $150 million Downtown Detention Center. Surveillance video showed the same person who took the keys entering the jail numerous times and doing some type of work on the walls. When he entered again on Jan. 4, 2020, Friedmann was stopped in a secure area while the police were called. During the wait, Friedmann took jail schematics out of his pocket, ripped them up and ate them, Hunter said.

As an activist against prison privatization, Friedmann had worked with Hall on the future of another Nashville jail — one that had been privatized but was returning to the control of the sheriff’s office. That is why Hall knew the security breach was serious when he learned the intruder was Friedmann.

“We knew if Alex Friedmann had been up to any good, he would have come to us and we would have provided him with information,” Hall testified. “We knew we were not talking about some casual occurrence here.”

Much of what Friedmann did in the jail is undisputed. It is on camera. His motives are unknown. There were no written records discovered that explained a plan, and Friedmann is unlikely to testify at trial. Hall has suggested Friedmann was planning a massive jailbreak. The theft of the keys was discovered just a couple of weeks before the facility was scheduled to open. Speaking to reporters after his testimony Tuesday, Hall said they were just “two weeks away from a massive loss of life.”

But defense attorney Ben Raybin told the jury in opening statements that their job is not to determine the morality of what Friedmann did. Since the facts are not in dispute, the main question for the jury will be whether the government is exaggerating the amount of damage to the building. To arrive at a charge of vandalism over $250,000, prosecutors said they will show that the entire facility had to be re-keyed at a cost of just over $291,000.

Defense attorney David Raybin noted that an early news release from the sheriff’s office said that between 85 to 100 locks would need to be replaced, while the final total included re-keying 1,800 locks.

The government also argued that Friedmann’s vandalism includes more than $300,000 in personnel costs incurred when sheriff’s officers reviewed thousands of hours of surveillance video.

Ben Raybin said in opening statements that the state is overcharging Friedmann. He urged the jury to look to the law and only hold Friedmann responsible for the actual physical damages to the jail.

Sheriff Hall testified he made the decision right away to change all the locks as a necessity for being able to open and use the new jail.

“There were many times when I thought we would never reopen the building and it would sit vacant for the rest of my tenure” he said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Israeli Embassy...

Associated Press

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

15 hours ago

Biden and Trump to visit Mexico border Thursday immigration...

Associated Press

Biden and Trump both plan trips to the Mexico border Thursday, dueling for advantage on immigration

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will make dueling trips to the U.S-Mexico border on Thursday.

16 hours ago

Arizona and New York attorneys feud over extraditing suspect...

Associated Press

Why Alvin Bragg and Rachel Mitchell are fighting over extraditing suspect in New York hotel killing

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says she isn't into extraditing a suspect due to her lack of faith in Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

5 days ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

6 days ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

13 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Sheriff says prison reform advocate committed ‘evil act’