Jury selection underway for the first four inmates for JTVCC deadly uprising

DELAWARE – Monday is a big milestone in the ongoing case of the James T. Vaughn uprising.

Almost two years after four correctional officers were taken hostage and one was killed, a jury is being selected for trial.

Indictments were announced one year ago against 16 individuals with first degree murder, which resulted in the death of Lieutenant Steven Floyd. Beyond that, charges are also in place for injuries to correctional officers Winslow Smith and Joshua Wilkinson, along with the kidnapping of counselor Patricia May.

One of the biggest offenses that will be heard in the courtroom, the murder of Lieutenant Steven Floyd.

16 inmates face murder charges along with two others who are facing kidnapping and rioting charges.


  • Jarreau Ayers
  • Abednego Baynes
  • Kevin Berry
  • John Bramble
  • Abdul-Haqq El-Qadeer
  • Deric Forney
  • Kelly Gibbs
  • Robert Hernandez
  • Janiis Mathis
  • Lawrence Michaels
  • Obadiah Miller
  • Jonatan Rodriguez
  • Alejandro Rodriguez-Ortiz
  • Roman Shankaras
  • Corey Smith
  • Dwayne Staats


  • Pedro Chairez
  • Royal Downs

The inmates have been divided into five groups for trial. The first group of four men include Roman Shankaras, Jarreau Ayers, Derric Foley, and Dwayne Staats.

We’re told that 35-year-old Dwayne Staats is a significant player in the riot and allegedly murdered Lieutenant Floyd. He is already serving a life sentence for first degree murder. Another key player, 42-year-old Pedro Chairez, an inmate from Arizona, accused but never convicted for killing another correctional officer in the past.

According to the Associated Press, 53-year-old Royal Downs, serving a life sentence for murder, entered a guilty plea on December 4. Downs is one of two inmates not charged with murder. Downs will be a key prosecution witness. 

COAD President Geoff Klopp tells 47 ABC that the graphic nature of Lieutenant’s Floyd death is a major component of this case. Opening statements are set for October 22nd, but until that date, confirmed details remain lock and key. COAD President Geoff Klopp says he couldn’t do an interview because their lawyers want to make sure nothing is said, which could potentially lead to a mistrial.

As for the trials, we’re told they are placed in groups because there are so many, they want to save time and effort. This would be the most practical and efficient way to do this. 

After the October trial, a second and third group of four individuals are scheduled for November and December. Trials will continue until February.

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