Federal judge throws out lawsuit by prisoner who was beaten with shovel

Posted June 20, 2014, at 1:10 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed earlier this year by a prisoner who was beaten with a shovel by another inmate.

U.S. District Judge George Singal entered a judgment Friday in favor of the Maine State Prison and one of its corrections officers in the lawsuit filed in January by James E. Brensinger. The federal judge also dismissed Brensinger’s claims against fellow prisoner Guy Hunnewell.

Hunnewell, 43, was convicted of murder in April for the June 2013 beating death of fellow prisoner 57-year-old Alan D. Powell. Justice Jeffrey Hjelm sentenced Hunnewell to life in prison for the murder. Hunnewell used an electric guitar to kill the victim.

Hunnewell previously was serving a 40-year prison sentence for stabbing to death his estranged girlfriend, Stephanie Gilliland, 20, of Benton at his Fairfield apartment in December 1997.

During his April 2014 sentencing hearing, Hunnewell also was convicted of aggravated assault for striking Brensinger with a shovel in January 2013. The prosecution said at Hunnewell’s hearing that the prison had given both Hunnewell and Brensinger shovels to remove wax buildup outside their cells, and Hunewell began striking Brensinger. No reason was given for that assault.

Brensinger, 29, stated in his federal lawsuit that if he were to receive $60,000 in damages, he would be happy. He said Hunnewell tried to kill him.

The judge accepted a magistrate’s recommendation to dismiss the lawsuit because Brensinger did not respond to a request to produce more information.

Brensinger is serving a sentence for unlawful sexual contact. His earliest release date is 2019.

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