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Prosecutors charge second inmate in assault that left Wisconsin youth prison counselor brain-dead

Lincoln Hills and Copper Lak
WAOW Television
Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake Schools

Prosecutors charged a second inmate Thursday in connection with a fight that left a counselor at Wisconsin’s youth prison brain-dead.

Online court records show 17-year-old Rian Nyblom was charged in Lincoln County Circuit Court with being a party to felony murder-battery and two counts of being a party to battery by a prisoner in connection with Monday’s fight at Lincoln Hills-Copper Lake Schools, the state's youth prison in Irma.

Online court records indicate Judge Galen Bayne-Allison set a $20,000 cash bond for Nyblom during his initial court appearance Thursday. Nyblom's attorney, public defender Jessica Fehrenbach, didn’t immediately return a message left at her office.

According to court documents, a 16-year-old inmate was upset with a 25-year-old female counselor whom he felt was abusing her powers. He threw soap at her, punched her and then punched 49-year-old counselor Corey Proulx, who fell and hit his head on concrete pavement. He was declared brain-dead Tuesday afternoon.

Lincoln County District Attorney Kristopher Ellis charged the 16-year-old as an adult with second-degree reckless homicide, felony murder-battery and two counts of battery by a prisoner. The Associated Press isn’t naming him because his attorneys could waive his case into juvenile court, where proceedings are secret.

According to the newest criminal complaint, Nyblom told investigators that he knew the 16-year-old was upset with the female counselor and wanted to “splash” her with conditioner and then start punching her. Nyblom said that about 15 minutes before the fight began he got extra soap and conditioner from counselors and secretly gave it to the 16-year-old.

He said that he didn't see the 16-year-old punch the female counselor, but he watched as he punched Proulx and Proulx hit his head. He added that he saw the female counselor had suffered a bloody nose, according to the complaint.

Nyblom is currently facing disorderly conduct and criminal damage to property charges in Eau Claire as well. Prosecutors charged him in that case in May.

Proulx remained on life support Thursday. His family plans to harvest his organs for donation, Lincoln County Coroner Valerie Caylor said.

Lincoln Hills-Copper Lake is Wisconsin’s only youth prison. The facility has been plagued by allegations of staff-on-inmate abuse, including excessive use of pepper spray, restraints and strip searches. A court-appointed monitor is currently overseeing the facility.

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