Holyoke man charged in jail fight

Staff Writer
Published: 12/5/2018 10:31:30 AM

NORTHAMPTON — A Holyoke man was arraigned in Northampton District Court Tuesday morning on assault and battery charges stemming from a Nov. 20 jail fight.

Michael John Russo is currently serving a 120-day sentence for larceny at the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction.

The prosecutor alleged that Russo attacked another inmate, causing multiple nasal fractures, a black eye, and blurry vision in his left eye.

The commonwealth said that Russo has a criminal history dating back to 1987, as well as two open matters in Holyoke District Court, and requested $5,000 cash bail, after elaborating some of his criminal history.

Robert Ferris, representing Russo, characterized the case differently.

“This was a jail fight,” said Ferris. “Defensive in nature.”

He alleged that the complaining witness tore out Russo’s bedding and dumped water on it. Afterward, Ferris said, the alleged victim told Russo that he had a “lock in a sock,” threatened him with a five-on-one fight, lunged at Russo and got in his face.

Ferris said Russo subsequently did only what he thought necessary to defend himself, fearing that he would be struck with a “lock in a sock.”

Because Russo has no funds, Ferris asked that a nominal bail be set. Judge William Rota imposed $1,000 cash bail.

If convicted of the charge of assault and battery causing serious injury, Russo could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

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