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Jimmy Melvin Jr. suspect in New Brunswick prison assault

Jimmy Melvin Jr. is being sentenced on charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. The Crown wants him declared a dangerous offender and locked up indefinitely. - TIM KROCHAK / The Chronicle Herald / File
Jimmy Melvin Jr., who's in the middle of a dangerous-offender hearing in Nova Scotia Supreme Court, is suspected of viciously assaulting an inmate at the Atlantic Institution in Renous, N.B., last month. - Tim Krochak/File

The Crown has applied to call additional evidence at Jimmy Melvin Jr.’s dangerous-offender hearing in Nova Scotia Supreme Court after he allegedly committed a vicious assault on a fellow inmate at a penitentiary in New Brunswick last month.

RCMP and the Correctional Service of Canada are investigating an assault at the maximum-security Atlantic Institution in Renous on Sept. 26 that sent a man to hospital with serious injuries.

The attack happened in the prison yard and was captured on surveillance video. The victim was a Nova Scotia man serving a life sentence for second-degree murder.

Melvin, 38, is being sentenced on charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder, from a plot to kill rival gangster Terry Marriott Jr. that was foiled by police in December 2008.

A Supreme Court jury found Melvin guilty in October 2017. The Crown wants the Halifax man declared a dangerous offender and locked up indefinitely.

Melvin has more than 60 convictions on his criminal record. He has been in custody since the summer of 2015 and is currently serving a federal sentence for assault and other offences from altercations with guards at Nova Scotia jails.

Melvin’s dangerous-offender hearing got underway in Halifax in July. Crown attorneys Rick Woodburn, Christine Driscoll and Sean McCarroll tendered their last evidence in September and were prepared to make closing arguments when the hearing resumes Nov. 2.

But prosecutors contacted the judge presiding over the hearing, Justice Peter Rosinski, earlier this month seeking permission to call evidence about the Sept. 26 assault to bolster their case against Melvin.

The plan is for Rosinski to hear the new evidence Nov. 2, followed by two days of closing submissions.

During an Oct. 9 conference call with the judge, defence lawyer Ray Kuszelewski consented to have the Crown call testimony from prison employees and a doctor who treated the victim but objected to video of the incident being admitted into evidence.

“Our position is that the videotape is highly prejudicial,” Kuszelewski said.

“The video would just aggravate the situation and not give any neutral view of the offence.”

The judge asked counsel to file briefs on the admissibility of the video in advance of the Nov. 2 proceeding.

Sgt. Eric Dube of the RCMP’s Blackville, N.B., detachment said Thursday that investigators expect to lay charges in connection with the assault “fairly soon.” He said the victim is still in hospital.

A forensic psychiatrist from British Columbia testified in July that Melvin poses a high risk to commit further acts of violence. Dr. Shabehram Lohrasbe said there has been a lot of documentation on Melvin over the years, and the “overall picture that emerges is quite clear.”

“We have this relentless documentation of him being a very angry individual and embracing the criminal lifestyle that celebrates the expression of anger through violence,” Lohrasbe said.

“For much of the documentation, there is no sign that he is interested, even if he could, in altering that.”

Lohrasbe said Melvin admitted he was high at the time of his interview with the doctor and uses drugs almost every day.

If Melvin is designated a dangerous offender, the judge could order him imprisoned indefinitely as requested by the Crown, unless the court is satisfied that a lesser measure would adequately protect the public.

Marriott, 34, was shot to death in Harrietsfield in February 2009. Melvin was charged with first-degree murder but was found not guilty by a jury in the spring of 2017.

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