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Inmate brutally attacked officer to return to Virginia, prosecutors say

Roy Booth Jr. looks on as state prosecutors argue why he should be denied bail. (Simón Rios/WBUR)
Roy Booth Jr. looks on as state prosecutors argue why he should be denied bail. (Simón Rios/WBUR)

Prosecutors said Thursday that the inmate accused of nearly killing a corrections officer at a state prison in Shirley in August was hoping the attack would prompt the state to send him back to Virginia.

Dozens of corrections officers and the officer's family attended the hearing in Middlesex Superior Court, where inmate Roy Booth Jr. was arraigned on charges of  armed assault to murder, mayhem and assault, and battery by means of a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury.

Booth pleaded not guilty to all the counts, as he stood in an orange jumpsuit between two guards.

Prosecutors said that on Aug. 31, Booth attacked a guard, Matthew Tidman, with a "five or six pound" weightlifting bar. Booth allegedly hit Tidman five times in the head before being restrained by officers, putting Tidman into a coma that lasted weeks.

Assistant District Attorney Thomas Brant said Booth believed he would be returned to Virginia as a result of the attack.

"Mr. Booth had made statements, previous to this incident, that he was looking for a way to get back to Virginia," Brant said. "That's one of the ways he could get back to Virginia is if he hurt someone, and that is exactly what he did on Aug. 31."

Ten days after the attack, Brant said Booth told another corrections officer his strategy for attacking corrections officers — or 'pigs.'

"That's the word he used, 'pigs,' " Brant said. '' 'The way you get these pigs is you sneak up on them when they're not looking, from behind, and get 'em.' "

Booth is serving a life sentence for a murder in Virginia. He was transferred to Massachusetts in March 2021 under the Interstate Corrections Compact. WBUR requested documents from the Department of Correction regarding Booth's transfer, but the state denied the request, citing privacy reasons.

The attack happened at the medium security prison in Shirley. Booth is now being held at the maximum-security facility nearby, Souza-Baranowski prison.

After the arraignment, Kevin Flanagan of the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union said the attack on Tidman was the most heinous thing he's seen during two decades in the business. He said weight rooms have been closed at some prisons, but officers remain concerned that recent changes to help improve the lives of prisoners have put guards at risk.

"The inmates have a lot more freedoms outside of their cells," Flanagan said.

Flanagan said Tidman is making a slow but steady recovery after coming out of the coma.

A judge Thursday denied Booth bail, pending a hearing on Oct. 27 at Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn. Booth's attorney contends he should be allowed to post bail on the charges because he is already serving a lengthy sentence and would go back to prison anyway.


Simón Rios Twitter Reporter
Simón Ríos is an award-winning bilingual reporter in WBUR's newsroom.



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