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Pre-sentence report approved for former jail guard

| Wednesday, July 6, 2011, 12:00 p.m.

A former Allegheny County Jail guard will get an idea of what his sentence could be should he decide to plead guilty to federal charges connected with the Oct. 13 beating of a prisoner, a judge decided on Tuesday.

Arii Metz, 32, of the North Side filed a motion on Monday asking for a pre-plea sentence investigation, which U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer approved.

Metz is charged with aggravated assault, obstruction of justice and official oppression in the attack on David Kipp, 24, of Polish Hill. The county suspended him in November and fired him in January.

James Wymard, Metz's attorney, couldn't be reached for comment. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment.

David Harris, a University of Pittsburgh law professor who studies federal criminal procedures, said the request makes sense because it would be difficult for lawyers on either side to predict what kind of sentence Metz could face if he pleads guilty.

With more routine charges, such as drug dealing, experienced lawyers often can predict what kind of sentences their clients could face, particularly if there are previous convictions.

"It's a little unusual because, for most people, you have a much better idea what the eventual result will be," he said.

The sentencing request doesn't necessarily signal that Metz intends to plead guilty, just that he and his lawyer want as much information as possible before making that decision, Harris said.

Judges normally order pre-sentence investigations after a defendant pleads guilty or is convicted by a jury. Federal probation and parole officers gather information on subjects such as the person's criminal history, family life and education, and recommend a sentencing range to the judge.

The judge isn't bound by the recommendation, but the report is one of the main factors in the judge's decision, Harris said.

The report is due on Sept. 6.

The investigation involves two other guards. Timothy C. Miller, 54, who also was fired, told police he saw Metz slam Kipp into a bench and punch him at least 10 times in the face. Miller has not been charged.

Marcia Williams, 39, is facing state charges for acting as Metz's lookout during the assault. She resigned her position but claimed there was no physical confrontation between Metz and Kipp.

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