4 charged in 2017 inmate death

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com

Charges of second-degree murder or, in the alternative, first-degree manslaughter have been filed in Osage County District Court against four men in connection with a September 2017 assault at the Dick Conner Correctional Center, located outside Hominy.

The attack victim is identified in court documents as Eric Shields. He died Nov. 29, 2017, due to “delayed complications” from the assault.

The day after the assault on Shields took place, the warden requested an investigation by the Office of Fugitive Apprehensions and Investigations, according to a court document.

The four men charged in connection with Shields’ death have been identified as Jeramey S. Jackson, 30; Claborne E. Maxwell Jr., 34; Enrique A. Melendez, 26; and Mario L. Phenix, 32. At least two of the suspects have prior convictions in murder cases, according to records.

Jackson has a record of criminal convictions going back to 2006. An Oklahoma Department of Corrections record shows his most-recent conviction was in 2017 and he received concurrent four-year sentences on multiple charges.

Maxwell’s record shows convictions in Tulsa and Logan counties, and he is still serving time based on the Tulsa County prosecution.

Melendez is serving a life sentence based on a 2015 first-degree murder conviction in Comanche County, an ODOC record shows.

Phenix is serving life sentences based on 2012 convictions in Tulsa County District Court for first-degree murder and shooting with intent to kill, according to an ODOC record.

Each of the four suspects is also charged with a single count of assault and battery. All four are scheduled to be arraigned May 1 in Osage County District Court.