Fmr. Tutwiler guard found not guilty of sexual misconduct - Montgomery Alabama news.

Fmr. Tutwiler guard found not guilty of sexual misconduct

Matthew Hall Matthew Hall

An Elmore County jury Wednesday returned with a not guilty verdict in the sexual misconduct case of former Alabama Department of Corrections officer Matthew Hall.

Immediately after the verdict was read, Hall's family gasped and let out an audible sigh of relief. The outburst earned a brief scolding by the judge.

Hall, 33, of Montgomery, pleaded not guilty to the charge following his April 2013 indictment. He was accused of custodial sexual misconduct for allegedly kissing and fondling death row inmate Christi Scott.

During the trial, the jurors heard a taped confession by Hall, but the defense claimed it was coerced and asked for an acquittal. Also in evidence against Hall was an 11-page statement by the prisoner detailing the alleged acts against her.

Attorneys on both sides agreed Scott's lack of credibility as a death row inmate played a part. Scott is on Alabama's death row for the murder of her own 6-year-old Autistic son, Mason Scott, six years ago in Russellville.

"I think it came down to that, a credibility issue and the fact the investigation was shoddy,' said Hall's attorney Richard White.

"I'm not shocked by the verdict but I do feel a sense of relief, a burden has been lifted," said Hall.

"The jury apparently felt Hall should not be convicted and register as a sex offender," said Elmore County Chief District Attorney C.J. Robinson.

Robinson told WSFA 12 News he has no regrets trying the case. Legally, Hall cannot be retried on the same charge.

Hall says he plans to celebrate that freedom with a steak dinner, far away from where it all started at Tutwiler prison across the highway from the Elmore County Courthouse.

Tutwiler Prison for Women, located in Wetumpka, is Alabama's only prison for women and is thus the state's holding facility for women on death row.

The Alabama Department of Corrections issued the following statement after the verdict came down saying it was disappointed:

"The Alabama Department of Corrections is disappointed to hear the verdict, but respects the jury process. The department maintains a zero-tolerance policy for custodial sexual misconduct, and will strive to make every female offender feel safe and  knowledgeable about the complaint process. If custodial sexual misconduct occurs one time, it is one time too many. The ADOC continually assesses its investigation procedures and will continue to do so to ensure we are delivering the most accurate information to the local District Attorney for prosecution, and will be proactive in creating a safe environment by making adjustments and improvements in accordance with PREA standards and best practices recommended by The Moss Group. This verdict will not stop us from enforcing our zero tolerance policy."

The prison is at the center of a U.S. Department of Justice probe. In January, the DOJ issued a report on Tutwiler alleging inmates have been sexually harassed and abused by corrections officers there for nearly 20 years.

Six other cases involving sexual misconduct by guards have been successfully prosecuted, to date.

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly