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Merrimack Valley

September 18, 2013

Calif. killer awaiting trial in 1988 Andover rape case armed himself at Middleton Jail

SALEM, Mass. — Twice convicted killer Valentine Underwood was transferred from the county jail to a state prison after he used pieces of broken mirror as knives and taped them to his hands, a prosecutor said yesterday.

Underwood was extradited from California, where he’s serving double life sentences, to Massachusetts in May 2011 to face trial for the 1988 kidnapping and rape of a woman on River Road in Andover. He was held for more than two years in a segregation unit at the county jail in Middleton before has transferred recently to MCI Cedar Junction — a maximum security state prison.

The 52-year-old former Marine basketball star is representing himself in the 25-year-old Andover case. Underwood is now scheduled to go to trial on Feb. 3. Attorney Joseph Collins will serve as Underwood’s standby defense counsel.

During a Superior Court appearance yesterday, where Underwood’s security measures were discussed, prosecutor Kate MacDougall said Underwood had been involved in a “standoff in Middleton” and had other disciplinary issues.

At Middleton Jail, MacDougall said a “recent incident” involved Underwood arming himself with two knives made out of a broken mirror that he taped to each hand. Underwood is 6 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs 290 pounds.

Underwood, handcuffed, dressed in red prison scrubs and sitting at the defense table in the courtroom yesterday, was surrounded by five Essex County Correctional Officers and several trial court officers.

In response to MacDougall’s description of the Middleton incident, Underwood said, “I was wrong.” Then, later in his commentary before Judge John Lu, Underwood denied having a knife.

“I am a Muslim your honor. I don’t have a problem with authority,” he said.

He said for “two years I was housed in the hole” at the Middleton Jail. While he was there for a long stretch, he said “kids” that came to the jail were only placed there for 30 days. Others in segregation were noisy while Underwood said “all I do is read and exercise.”

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