Former Ala. Prison Guard Pleads Guilty to Obstructing Justice Charge

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- A former Alabama prison guard has pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing justice in the investigation of an inmate beating death.

Former Ventress Correctional Facility officer Joseph Sanders entered the plea Monday after jury selection began for his trial in Montgomery. Sanders is the fourth former prison system employee to be convicted or plead guilty to charges involving the death on inmate Rocrast Mack in August 2010.

Defense attorney Jim Parkman said his client admitted he lied to investigators when he said he didn't see a baton in a prison office where Mack was beaten. The attorney said federal prosecutors agreed to drop charges accusing Sanders of hitting Mack with a baton.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson set sentencing for Sept. 23. Sanders faces up to 20 years.