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Attorney: Nathaniel Abraham 'tortured' in jail

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News
Nathaniel Abraham argued with the judge at his arraignment August 10, 2018.

Pontiac – An attorney for Nathaniel Abraham, who made headlines in 1997 when as a child he fatally shot a man outside a Pontiac party store, said Thursday his client is being “tortured” at the Oakland County Jail after a fight with deputies during a recent arrest.

Abraham, now 32, was only 11 when convicted of second-degree murder in the slaying and sentenced to detention in a juvenile facility. He was released in 2007 when he turned 21 but was back behind bars within two years for selling drugs, for which he received a four-to 20-year prison sentence.

Abraham was most recently arrested Aug. 9 after he failed to show up for court on a misdemeanor offense of indecent exposure, after allegedly exposing himself to a female neighbor in Pontiac on Aug 7.

During the arrest, Abraham shook off three Taser-barbed darts and punched deputies before he was wrestled into custody. He is charged with three counts of assault of a police officer and resisting arrest, felony offenses that can carry up to four years in prison upon conviction.

“I went to visit him (in jail) on Saturday and he was in what amounts to solitary confinement in a cell – 23 hours a day – without any other human contact, no commissary, no TV, no books, nothing. Just a locked slot that has to be opened to talk to him or pass him his food,” said attorney James Galen, who said he was hired by Abraham’s “supporters” to defend him.

“He has been in there since last Tuesday,” said Galen. “I don’t know what else to say but it's akin to torture and without explanation.”

Galen said deputies told him that Abraham had acted “inappropriately” during his incarceration but did not elaborate.

“I believe it is retaliatory punishment because of his scuffle with deputies,” Galen said Thursday outside 50th District Court, where a probable cause hearing was scheduled before Judge Ronda Fowlkes Gross.

The hearing was adjourned to a preliminary examination next Tuesday and none of Galen’s concerns were brought up, including his desire to have Gross reduce Abraham’s bond.

When Galen began to elaborate to Gross about his client’s treatment and current custody, Gross stopped Galen with a curt response: “I’m not going to tell Sheriff (Michael) Bouchard how to run his jail.”

She said she would not consider bond reduction until she had more facts next week.

Abraham is being held in lieu of $25,000 cash or surety bond for the assault offenses and $5,000 for the indecent exposure charge.

Oakland County sheriff's Major Charles Snarey, who oversees jail operations and the 1,373 inmates, said Thursday that Abraham was “being treated like any other prisoner under the circumstances.”

“He (Abraham) is creating his own problems,” Snarey said.

Jail administrator Lt. Melissa McClellan said Abraham has been ticketed and moved around inside the jail because of the reported misbehavior and “also for his own safety.”

“When he was first lodged, he was in a holding cell with other inmates – the new arrivals – and had to be moved because of a verbal altercation,” McClellan said.
McClellan said Abraham then dropped his clothing and masturbated in front of trustees and other inmates, prompting him to be placed in an area where “others couldn’t get to him.”

The K block area is a set of one-person cells which are normally used for inmateswho present a problem or threat to others or themselves, including those on suicide watch, she said. It is supervised by three deputies at all times.

“We don’t take this matter lightly and we wouldn’t have him there if he would have behaved himself in other (custody) arrangements,” she said. “We need these spaces for persons who don’t behave. Until he does, he will probably remain right where he is.”

This month's charges are the latest brushes with the law for Abraham, released from parole in June after completing a sentence for assaulting two prison guards during incarceration. He spent time in prison for drug charges, his second felony conviction.

On Aug. 7, a woman called the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office to report a shirtless man with a basketball had approached her and asked if he could mow her lawn. She told him she wasn’t interested and as she turned to walk away, noticed he had exposed himself.

A man fitting the description – Abraham – was found elsewhere in the neighborhood and questioned about the incident, which he denied, deputies said. He was taken by the woman’s address and she identified him as the suspect.

Abraham had been directed to report to court on Aug. 8 on the charge, which carries  a brief jail sentence on conviction. When he didn’t show at the scheduled hour, deputies went looking for him and when they spotted him nearby, he ran, authorities allege.

During his last arraignment, Abraham argued and lectured Pontiac District Judge Michael Martinez on the law and how charges he faced amounted to “double jeapordy.”

Abraham is due back in court on Aug. 28 before 50th District Judge Preston G. Thomas on the indecent exposure charge and then a preliminary examination on the assault offense before Gross.
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