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Hearing Set For Ohio Inmate Accused In Prison Knife Attacks

Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio.
John Minchillo
Associated Press
Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio.

A hearing was planned Tuesday for an Ohio inmate accused in a 2017 knife attack on four other prisoners handcuffed and unable to defend themselves and in a stabbing attack the following year on a guard who is still recovering from his injuries.

Inmate Greg Reinke was already serving a life sentence for aggravated murder for a fatal 2004 shooting in Cleveland when the knife attacks happened.

Reinke, 38, has pleaded not guilty to the attacks, both of which happened at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for Tuesday morning in Scioto County Common Pleas Court. That's in the Ohio River city of Portsmouth.

A video obtained by The Associated Press of the 2017 attack pictures Reinke repeatedly stabbing the four other prisoners. Reinke, seated at an adjoining table, somehow slipped out of his own handcuffs then used a homemade 7-inch (18-centimeter) shank in the assault.

In 2018, Reinke and another inmate, Casey Pigge, stabbed corrections officer Matthew Mathias 32 times near the Lucasville infirmary, according to an indictment charging both men. Mathias spent weeks in the hospital and is still recovering, according to the union representing Ohio guards.

Pigge was previously convicted of three separate killings, including strangling a fellow inmate on a medical transport bus. He has also pleaded not guilty in the attack on the guard.

After the second attack, Reinke and Pigge were both transferred to the Ohio State Penitentiary, the state's supermax prison in Youngstown.

In a phone call from prison on Jan. 30, Reinke told the AP that guards beat him "to a pulp" after he arrived at the supermax, allegedly breaking his eye socket and fracturing his skull.

Reinke also alleged ongoing mistreatment by prison staff of him and Pigge, which he attributed to their actions.

"The staff are stealing from us, you know they're damaging our property, they're writing fake tickets," Reinke said. "It's everything. It's like we're on a whole different planet than everybody else." He said they "feel like it's their duty to exact revenge on me."

Prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said there was "no evidence" that officers harassed or assaulted either inmate.

"Because of the serious, violent offenses these inmates are accused of committing, additional security protocols have been established for both the safety of the inmates and staff anytime these inmates are out of their cells," she said in a statement.

Smith said those protocols, in place continuously since Reinke and Pigge arrived, include daily cell searches looking for any sign of contraband or weapons.

"Both inmates are limited on what property they can possess, but they are permitted hygiene items and writing materials," she said.

A spokeswoman for the union representing prison guards did not return repeated requests for comment.

In January, Reinke said he had been told he would be required starting the following week to wear a band "like a taser" connected to a controller that could shock him.

Smith confirmed that the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has begun using controlled electronic devices. She said the specific policy is not a public record, but that the department has stated, "In no circumstance are CEDs to be used for punishment or the convenience of staff."

Reinke's attorney, Matthew Loesch, said he was not aware of his client's allegations about being beaten and that he had been impressed by the professionalism of prison staff when he visited his client.

"That's not to say it didn't happen, I'm just not aware of it," he said. "If someone's being subject to abuse, anybody's going to want to do what they can to make that stop."

Scioto County prosecutors initially declined to prosecute Reinke for the attack on the four inmates, arguing he was already serving life for the Cleveland killing.

Last year, newly elected Scioto County prosecutor Shane Tieman changed course and charged Reinke with both prison attacks.

Reinke speculated that the decision reflected a double standard within the prison system.

"It's like them people at the table ain't even human to 'em, like don't even matter as much as that guard," he said.

Responding to allegations by one of the inmates stabbed during the 2017 attack that the assault was a set-up by guards, Reinke said he received a "care package" of new t-shirts, envelopes and other items after it happened.

"They didn't really set it up, but they surely condoned it," he said.

Tieman said he found no evidence of a set-up. No guards involved in the incident were disciplined.