A local inmate was acquitted of two of three charges filed against him resulting from a brawl with another inmate that occurred last year at a federal prison.

Jermaine Cannady, a Baltimore native, was convicted of assault causing bodily injury in U.S. District Court in Ashland Wednesday, but was cleared of charges of maiming and disfiguring — the most serious of the counts against him — and assault with bodily scarring.

Cannady went on trial Tuesday for allegedly throwing baby oil brought to boiling temperature on fellow inmate Falaniko Uti during a scuffle in a TV room at the Ashland Federal Correction Institute in November.

Uti also testified that Cannady beat him with a five-foot metal broom handle after he had been doused with the hot liquid.

The inmate suffered second-degree burns and bears knots and scars from the broom handle. He was hospitalized for a week following the incident.

Cannady had maintained that he was not the one who threw the baby oil on Uti. The defendant said Uti seemed to be confused after the incident occurred, and punched Cannady, thinking Cannady had set him up.

Cannady claimed he grabbed the broom handle in self defense, trying to ward off the larger Uti as he charged him.

“I think the jury found (Cannady) more credible,” said Matthew Warnock, Cannady’s attorney. “It came out pretty well.

“Of course, I was looking for an outright acquittal, but I’m pleased Mr. Cannady was acquitted of the most serious charge.”

Uti had testified he and Cannady were watching a football game on television in the prison the night of the incident, and Cannady had become upset when the team he was rooting for lost.

He said Cannady swore to himself, and also muttered something about stamps Uti owed him for a card game the two had played several days before.

Uti explained that stamps were used as currency inside the jail, and books were often wagered, though gambling was illegal.

Uti denied he wagered stamps on anything other than card games.

Cannady, however, indicated in his testimony that Uti had gambling debts with other inmates, something Uti denied in his testimony, and said that the slinging of boiling oil onto Uti’s head was carried out by someone else. Cannady said he saw another person moving in a stairwell next to the TV room entrance during the altercation.

Warnock said Cannady didn’t get a clear look at the third party.

“(Cannady) was sitting there, with headphones on, next to Mr. Uti,” Warnock said. “They were watching ‘60 Minutes,’ not a football game, and all of a sudden, Mr. Uti is coming at him.”

Uti, a 13-year veteran of the military, is in the midst of a 210-month sentence for drug conspiracy and tax evasion.

Cannady is also in the midst of a seven-year sentence for drug charges.

He faces up to 10 additional years in prison for the assault charge on which he was convicted. He could have faced another 30 if convicted of the other two charges.

U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning will determine Cannady’s sentence in September.

BEN FIELDS can be reached at bfields@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.

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