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A Jefferson County juvenile detention officer was released Thursday from the hospital, two days after a beating by a teenage detainee left him with a fractured skull and internal bleeding.

Now the assailant's fate rests with the local prosecutor's office.

Capt. William Smithwick, 59, had been airlifted from Jefferson Regional Medical Center to a Little Rock hospital on Tuesday -- within hours of the assault -- after his condition worsened.

The next day, officials reported that Smithwick had improved.

Smithwick had overheard the boy threatening to hurt himself and then found a sharp object in his cell Tuesday afternoon, according to an official account of the incident. When the captain entered the cell, the boy punched him in the face repeatedly. The assault continued "forcefully," even when Smithwick tried to exit the cell.

It was his 19th year on the job.

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The teen boy remains unnamed. At the time, he was being housed at Pine Bluff's Jack Jones Juvenile Center while awaiting placement by the state's Division of Youth Services, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Jefferson County sheriff's office.

He is still being held there.

Seven years ago, three youths at the same facility beat and killed a 58-year-old juvenile officer during a short-lived escape.

A representative from the Department of Human Services, which oversees the Youth Services Division, declined to comment on Tuesday's incident or confirm if the suspect was in state custody.

A case file to include a probable-cause statement, has gone to the prosecuting attorney's office, said Maj. Lafayette Woods Jr., spokesman and operation commander of the county sheriff's office.

The prosecutor will "ultimately decide the charging mechanism," Woods said.

In an earlier statement, Woods said charges for second-degree battery were "looming."

Kyle Hunter, 11th-West Judicial Circuit prosecutor, which covers Jefferson County, was not available for comment.

Metro on 05/05/2017

Print Headline: Jailer attacked by teen released from hospital

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