Man who punched 7-year-old says jail too rough for him

Anchorage Daily NewsAugust 13, 2011 

ANCHORAGE — Alaska State Troopers are investigating the reported jailhouse beating of an Anchorage man accused of punching a young girl in June. But a judge on Friday denied Byron Syvinski's subsequent request to be moved from the jail to a halfway house, saying the 32-year-old remains a danger to the community.

Syvinski is accused of attacking several neighbors, including a 7-year-old girl he allegedly punched in the head multiple times while trying to steal her bike.

Through his court-appointed attorney, Jeff Robinson, Syvinski had sought lowered bail and release to a halfway house because of a beating that left his face bruised and re-injured his previously broken arm, Robinson told Anchorage District Court Judge Patrick Hanley.

Troopers are investigating the alleged July 31 attack on Syvinski by another inmate or inmates at the Anchorage jail, a troopers spokeswoman said.

Syvinski appeared in court for the Friday bail hearing with bruises under his eyes and his left arm in a cast and sling. He's charged with robbery and multiple assault counts for the alleged June 5 attack on his Eide Street neighbors.

Police wrote in court papers that Syvinski was acting delirious when he approached a neighborhood teenager and tried to snatch the boy's bag. Syvinski punched the boy's father in the face before the boy struck Syvinski with a pole, police said.

Syvinski walked down the street to where Am-Marie Martin -- who turned 8 Friday, her mother said -- was on her bike in her driveway, police said. Syvinski ordered the girl off the bike and when she didn't move, he punched her, knocking her to the pavement, police said.

Witnesses told police that Syvinski punched the girl twice more while she was on the ground.

ADVERTISEMENT Quantcast Martin was taken to a hospital with severe head injuries. Syvinski also was taken to a hospital for an infected arm. Police arrested him five days later.

In court Friday, Robinson told Hanley that Syvinski spent some time separated from other inmates for additional medical treatment. It was shortly after Syvinski's release from medical segregation that he was attacked, Robinson said.

"The decision to release him to general population is frightening," Robinson told the judge. "We live in a civilized society; we don't believe in vigilante justice."

Robinson showed Hanley and Assistant District Attorney Brittany Dunlop pictures of Syvinski's injuries taken days after the beating. The photos showed Syvinski's swollen lips and dark bruises on his body.

"We have no reason to think the (Department of Corrections) can't protect Mr. Syvinski," Dunlop said.

Halfway houses have less security than jails, which could make it easier for Syvinski to escape, the prosecutor argued. That would allow Syvinski -- whose criminal record indicates repeated drug abuse dating back to 1999 -- to possibly get high and attack someone again, she said.

Martin's mother, Andrea Dunwoody, told the judge that Syvinski belonged in jail, not a halfway house. Dunwoody also addressed Syvinski directly.

"Just imagine what my daughter felt when you pounded her head into the ground," she told him. Dunwoody glared at Syvinski, who looked to the floor.

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