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Inmates Charged With Murder Conspiracy In AIDS Serum Case

July 28, 1986

LAKE BUTLER, Fla. (AP) _ A prison officer who drank coffee containing an AIDS patient’s blood says he’s pleased that criminal charges have been filed against two inmates suspected of dumping the serum in his cup.

″This is a one-of-a-kind case, and I know it took a lot of research to bring the charges. I’m glad that part of it is over,″ Robert Elliot, 49, told The Florida Times-Union and Jacksonville Journal.

Assistant State Attorney Jon Phillips said Lee Adolph Dunn and Robert J. Grimmer were charged Friday with murder conspiracy and possession of contraband.

In addition, a charge of solicitation to commit murder was filed against Grimmer. Officials allege he gave serum to a third inmate and asked him to try to kill someone with it.

If convicted of the conspiracy charge, the inmates face sentences of up to life in prison.

Phillips said he had never encountered such a case.

Department of Corrections officials learned of the scheme last month when a third inmate notified them. His name has been withheld to protect him.

The inmates were housed at Reception Medical Center here, the first stop for all new prisoners. From here, they are assigned to prisons throughout the state.

Dunn, 46, worked as an orderly in a RMC laboratory where blood serum and other samples are kept in a refrigerator.

Grimmer, 25, allegedly told another inmate what he had done to Elliot’s coffee, Phillips said.

The serum dumped in Elliot’s coffee was from blood drawn from a prisoner confirmed to have AIDS, officials say. Serum is the clear fluid which remains after red and white cells have separated out.

Grimmer, from Volusia County, was sent to prison for five years in June 1983 for fraud. He was released in December but was arrested six days later in Osceola County. He tried to escape and was sentenced to two more years in prison.

Dunn is serving a six-year sentence for drug trafficking.

Elliot said earlier reports that he was targeted because he spoiled an escape attempt were speculation. He said he supplied information that prompted an investigation of Grimmer, but it was never determined that the inmate was involved in an escape plot.

″I don’t know if that is the real reason or not. Sometimes there’s no explaining why inmates do things,″ he said.

Meanwhile, the five-year veteran of the state prison system will get monthly tests for AIDS, though doctors assured him that his stomach acids likely destroyed the virus.

″I’m familiar with it enough to know there’s no big risk, but there’s no way to rule out that I will never contract AIDS,″ he said. ″There’s always the possibility.″

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