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2 Utah prison inmates charged with locking guards in a cell and setting a fire

An hour later, the guards were released unharmed.

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool) A watch tower at the Utah State Correctional Facility in Draper.

A pair of Utah State Prison inmates are facing felony charges after they allegedly got drunk on fermented fruit, locked two guards in a cell and set a fire.

The 29- and 24-year-old prisoners have been charged in 3rd District Court with aggravated kidnapping, a first degree felony; and rioting, a third-degree felony. The 29-year-old is also charged with damaging a jail, a third-degree felony.

According to a prison guard, on Nov. 22 he noticed a “strong alcoholic odor” coming from a cell. When he and another guard searched the cell, they found “a bag of fruit that smelled strongly of alcohol,” along with several electronic devices that had identifying names and numbers sanded off.

As one of the guards was confiscating a television, the 29-year-old prisoner told the guard “that if he took the TV, he would rip his head off.” A third inmate shut the door to the cell when the 24-year-old prisoner tried to enter, locking the two guards inside.

The two guards remained locked in the cell for more than an hour while the 29-year-old prisoner threw a metal box at the door several times.

The two prisoners were seen on surveillance video putting a burning sheet outside a nearby cell and continuing to add sheets to the fire. Other officers came to put out the fire, arrested the two prisoners and freed the two guards.

According to the charges, the 24-year-old prisoner told investigators he “was having a hard time remembering everything that happened because he and his cellmate were drunk at the time.” And, he added, he didn’t know why he set the fire.

The 29-year-old prisoner told investigators he had been drinking, he wasn’t sure why he set the fire and that he wanted to apologize to the guard he had threatened.

The 24-year-old is serving a 1-15 year sentence for manslaughter; the 29-year-old was sentenced to up to five years in prison on weapons charges, and was sent back to prison in 2018 after his parole was revoked.

The two men are scheduled to appear in court via video on May 20.

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