Lawyers: Lowell Corrections officials must be banned from visiting severely beaten inmate in the hospital.

Cheryl Wiemar (photo courtesy of Ryan Andrews)

Lowell Correctional Institution officials have had unfettered access to beaten inmate Cheryl Weimar — who is bedridden in a hospital room in Ocala – a practice her attorney considered “troublesome” and a matter of safety.

That’s why the Tallahassee-based Andrews Law Firm filed an emergency motion in federal court this week seeking an order to prohibit Lowell Correctional Institution employees from having any access to Weimar for the remainder of her time in the hospital.

The attorneys also contend in the petition that corrections officers have told inmates they could also suffer the same fate as Weimar.

Four Lowell corrections officers have been accused of a brutal beating that has left Weimar bedridden and a quadriplegic. She can breathe only through a tracheostomy tube and eat using a Percutaneous endoscopic gastronomy (PEG) tube.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Department of Correction’s Office of Inspector General are investigating the beating incident that occurred in late August.

Because Weimar is still in the custody and control of the Florida Department of Corrections, her hospital room is guarded by department officials to limit who may gain access to her.

In the motion filed this week in U.S. District Court Northern Division of Florida, her attorneys claim that “access to Mrs. Weimar by Lowell Correctional Institution employees does not appear to be limited at all.”

Visitors have included the supervisors of the four corrections officers of beating her up, according to the motion.

“This poses a serious safety risk to Mrs. Weimar, and a substantial risk of interference, threats, witness tampering, and coercion during the pendency of this case and the FDLE investigation,” the motion states.

The attorneys are requesting that the corrections agency send inspectors from the Office of Inspector General to take control of watching over Weimar, since they would have “no bias or taint in this matter.”

Meanwhile, the four officers accused of beating Weimar remain employed at the prison but have been reassigned to duties that don’t require interaction with inmates. Their names have not been published, and they are referenced as “John Doe” in federal court records.

Weimar’s attorneys say they have also encountered resistance from Lowell Correctional officials since they took over representing her last week.

After she was hospitalized, Weimar’s attorneys attempted to enter her hospital room and attempted to take photos and videos to register her injuries, but were denied by corrections department officials, prompting them to go to court to get access.

The motion contends that Yolanda Lanier, the assistant warden at Lowell Correctional, has consistently worked to thwart the attorneys from making contact with Weimar in the hospital, and even denied them from providing her with letters from the public wishing her well and offering thoughts and prayers.

The attorneys say they also have obtained evidence of corrections officers boasting about the violent incident and asserting that “she got what she deserved,” as well as threatening other inmates who observed the attack.

Weimar was sentenced to six years in prison in 2016 on charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and resisting an officer with violence. She is scheduled to be released in 2021. Her attorneys say the cost for her health care for the rest of her life could be more than $50 million.

Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry has spent the past 18 years covering news and politics in the Sunshine State, most recently with FloridaPolitics.com. He worked for five years as the political editor of Creative Loafing in Tampa, and before that he was the assistant news director at WMNF radio, where he served as creator/anchor/producer of the hour-long WMNF Evening News. A San Francisco native, Mitch began his career at KPFA Radio in Berkeley in the 1990's.

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