US: Medical records released to prosecutors in Pennsylvania spitting case





Inmate’s HIV test info to be released

April 21, 2008
Source: Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE – A judge has ordered state prison officials to release all medical records regarding an inmate’s HIV-related testing.

The judge made the ruling at the request of Luzerne County prosecutors. They say the inmate, SX, was infected with HIV, hepatitis B or another infectious disease when he spit on a guard’s face in 2006.

Prosecutors say they need the test results to show X knew he was infected with a disease when he spat on the guard.

Court of Common Pleas Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. last week approved the request.

X, 38, and Anthony Gray, 26, are awaiting trial on assault and harassment charges.

State police said the two were inmates at the State Correctional Institution at Dallas in October 2006 when guard Ralph Laiuvara was escorting Gray to another area of the prison.

Gray was placed in a cell, but he became upset because he was not in the same cell as X.

Gray then spit on Laiuvara’s face, police said.

So did X, police said.

Court papers say prosecutors and state Trooper John Yencha have “reason to believe, based upon credible information,” that X, at the time of the incident, was infected with one of the diseases.

Prosecutors, in their request for X’ records, said they need to show that X knew he was infected in order to prove certain elements of the charges.

X’ attorney, Brian Corcoran, said the information is vital to the case because a state law says if someone has an HIV-related disease and they attack someone, it could result in an increased sentence.

After a hearing Wednesday, Olszewski approved the request.

He said state prison officials must disclose records and documents containing the results of medical tests X underwent for HIV and hepatitis and any records showing he was advised “of his status as a person who is infected with any infectious or communicable disease.”

Laiuvara was tested after the incident. It was determined he was not infected with any of the diseases.

Both suspects remain jailed.

Editorial comment

The medical records of an alleged HIV-positive prisoner who spat at a guard in 2006 have been ordered to be released to prosecutors who want to prove the man was HIV-positive and knew his HIV status when the incident occurred, in order to prove HIV exposure charges.

The situation is totally bizarre. Spitting cannot transmit HIV. Even if the prosecution doesn’t know any better, surely the judge who ordered the release of the man’s medical records should have spent one minute thinking about it, rather than allow this man’s privacy to be invaded and his human rights to be eroded. Of course, the guard did not become infected with any kind of disease following the incident. Duh!