A 19-year-old Westminster man accused of beating a two-year-old girl was assaulted in his cell Sunday night
at Oconee County Detention Center.
was taken into custody early Sunday morning and booked at Oconee County Detention Center on a charge of inflicting great bodily injury upon a child.
After being arrested and charged with assaulting Heather Fifik’s two-year-old daughter, Marcello was eventually placed in a cell with 13 other inmates
, Maj. Steve Pruitt, director of the detention center, said.
While waiting in the cell, 10 of the cellmates are suspected of “beating and kicking Marcello in the head and ribs,”
according to the incident report.
The report indicates Marcello was holding the warrant for his recent arrest when one of the men in the unit grabbed the warrant from him and stated, “We don’t go for this s_ _ _” and began assaulting him.
Marcello told officers that Jelon Pendergrass, alleged participant in a home invasion in Westminster last month, said he was going to kill him before the night was through.
While Marcello told responding officers from the Walhalla Police Department the assault lasted nearly an hour
, Pruitt said he doubted it could have lasted that long.
“That’d be extreme. Our guards make their rounds more often than that,” Pruitt said. “They try to vary. They don’t just make a round every half hour, they try to vary the routine so it makes people in the cell not know when to expect them.”
Many of the men in the cell with Marcello are suspected violent offenders, with charges ranging from assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, to first-degree burglary, assault and battery with intent to kill and carjacking.
Pruitt said it is not uncommon for inmates accused of crimes against children to become targets for violence.
“That does happen sometimes, yes. People who are charged with physical or sexual assault on children have been victim of assault before,” Pruitt said.
He added that Marcello had the option of requesting protective custody, but did not do so
. After the assault, he was transported to Oconee Medical Center, treated and released the same day.
“My understanding was he suffered bruises, and some swelling near his eyes,” Pruitt said.
Fifik told The Daily Journal she discovered her daughter had been beaten after returning from work to her Seneca home. Marcello, his wife and his brother had all been at home at the time, she said, along with Fifik’s oldest daughter. Fifik said upon her arrival, Marcello and his wife told her she had hit her lip on a dresser, resulting in the injuries. According to the mother, the two-year-old child identified Marcello as the assailant.
The child’s injuries are said to be healing quickly.
“Jail is like a vacation to what he deserves for hurting my daughter like that,”