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Witness Says Roman Shankaras Not Part of Violence During Prison Riot

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - The prosecution's star witness says an inmate charged with the murder of a correctional officer during a Delaware prison riot was the "puppet master" of the uprising.

But Royal Downs, serving a life sentence for murder, also testified Wednesday that he never saw defendant Roman Shankaras participate in any violence, and that Shankaras mostly stayed in his cell during the 2017 disturbance.

Shankaras is one of 16 inmates who were charged in the death of prison guard Steven Floyd. Only one of seven inmates tried to date has been convicted of murder.

Downs has claimed that he advocated for a peaceful protest. But once the riot broke out, he played a key role in hostage negotiations.

Downs later pleaded guilty to riot and agreed to testify against other inmates.

Don Rush is the News Director at Delmarva Public Media. An award-winning journalist, Don reports major local issues of the day, from sea level rise, to urban development, to the changing demographics of Delmarva.