HARRISBURG — A judge on Thursday appointed attorneys for “death penalty proceedings” in the case of a federal inmate under investigation in the killing of corrections officer Eric Williams of Nanticoke at a prison in Wayne County.
The filing by U.S. District Chief Judge Yvette Kane signaled the direction of the prosecution of Jessie Con-Ui, even though he has not been charged.
Kane indicated the investigation “has the potential to become a capital case” when on March 11 she appointed attorneys James Swetz and Mark Fleming to represent Con-Ui, who was unable to pay for legal counsel.
A docket entry in the case listed the appointment of Swetz “in Death Penalty Proceedings.” Documents for Swetz and Fleming also noted they were appointed for “death penalty proceedings.” The docket also listed a number of sealed documents not available for public viewing.
A voice-mail message for Swetz, of Stroudsburg, was not returned. A message left for Fleming, of San Diego, Calif. was not returned.
The 36-year-old inmate from Arizona is under investigation in the stabbing death of Williams on Feb. 25 at the U.S. Penitentiary-Canaan. Williams died from multiple stab wounds inflicted by an inmate wielding a homemade knife, according to federal authorities.
Con-Ui was serving a sentence at the prison in Canaan for a 2005 conviction on drug charges. He was indicted along with six other men in June 2003 in Arizona for participating in a drug ring connected to the New Mexican Mafia gang. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and a firearms charge and received a sentence of 11 years and three months.
Con-Ui was to be released from federal custody on Sept. 17 , but still faced a life sentence in Arizona for a first-degree murder conviction. He has since been moved to the Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colo., whose inmates include Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber; Ramzi Yousef, convicted in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, and Terry Nichols, who helped carry out the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.