Anchorage Jail inmate stabbed in the eyes by his cellmate, charges say
An Anchorage Jail inmate is facing attempted-murder charges after investigators said he stabbed his cellmate in the eyes with a pencil last week, before being restrained by correctional officers using a Taser and pepper spray.
Justin Apple, 39, is also accused of first-degree assault in the July 3 incident in the west wing of the Anchorage Correctional Complex, according to court documents.
Alaska Department of Corrections spokeswoman Megan Edge didn’t have any additional comment on the case Monday, saying it remains under investigation by Alaska State Troopers and the department’s Professional Conduct Unit.
Alaska State Troopers investigator Sgt. Kid Chan said in a criminal complaint that Apple and the victim, Michael Knipe, had been housed in the jail’s Lima Mod, an area that is part of its mental-health program. Inmates in the area are allowed to have pencils and paper for drawing.
Sgt. Keith Zimmerman, the DOC supervisor for Lima Mod, told troopers that the stabbing took place just before 1 a.m. A correctional officer making a security sweep through the area didn’t find anything out of the ordinary, but as he left he heard a “banging noise.” He found Apple kicking Knipe, who was under some blankets, in the head.
The officer called for backup, Zimmerman told troopers, saying, “I need you guys down here, this is bad.” Zimmerman and other officers found Knipe lying on the floor under the bloodstained sheet, as Apple paced over him inside the still-locked cell.
“Apple looked at Sgt. Zimmerman in the eyes, turned back, and slowly went towards Knipe’s right eye and started to insert the pencil into Knipe’s eye until it couldn’t go any further,” Chan wrote. “Then he pulled it up and started jabbing into the left eye.”
When officers armed with Tasers arrived, they opened the cell door and used the weapons on Apple twice. The first shot was ineffective and Apple got up to approach the door after the second shot, forcing officers to close the door again. Zimmerman said Apple again began to stab Knipe when four officers entered the cell and deployed OC pepper spray against him. The officers weren’t able to take the nearly 7-inch-long pencil from Apple and restrain him until he was pinned down.
“Sgt. Zimmerman said that Apple was going to kill them,” Chan wrote. “Apple had murder on his mind. He was going to kill (Knipe) lying on the bunk.”
Medics took Knipe to the Alaska Native Medical Center in serious condition, where he was treated in the hospital’s Critical Care Unit.
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