AUGUSTA — A 21-year-old city man is accused of severely beating his Kennebec County jail cellmate, a man serving 30 days for contempt for failing to pay child support.

Elijah L. Ashley faces a charge of aggravated assault that carries a maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment, and on Friday a judge at the Capital Judicial Center set his bail at $150,000. Ashley had been held previously on $750 bail on a charge of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and was unable to make that amount.

The victim named in the complaint, Paul A. Gagnon, 48, of Augusta, remains at Maine Medical Center in Portland where he was taken Nov. 18. He was discovered at 5:20 a.m. that day on the bottom bunk of his cell “injured badly, non-responsive and bleeding from the head,” wrote Detective John Bourque of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office.

On Monday, Gagnon’s mother, Diane Gagnon, said Gagnon remained at the Portland hospital with a brain injury and was being fed through a tube. She said he can talk a little, but his voice is raspy.

“He thinks he has to get up and go to work,” she said, and he wants to go home to Augusta.

She’s been at the hospital with him daily, and said he is to be moved to a trauma rehabilitation center in Kennebunk.

Diane Gagnon is treasurer for the Maine Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children. Her son Jeff Gagnon was murdered in 1989.

“We lost one son, and we can’t lose another,” she said.

She said the family is now working to get Paul Gagnon on MaineCare and disability.

“I want everybody to know he was in there for back child support, and they put him with a violent inmate,” she said.

Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason said Monday that the attack “appears to be an isolated incident.” Mason said inmates are placed in various classifications when they arrive, but added “You never know when things are going to occur or why.”

Mason said the staff checked the Q-block cells, where the attack occurred, every 30 minutes as required.

Gagnon had been jailed Nov. 14 to serve the contempt sentence.

Bourque’s affidavit says corrections officers were in the cell with Ashley and Gagnon at 3:05 a.m. Nov. 18 to clear a clogged toilet, and that Gagnon was snoring loudly with a blanket over his head. Bourque said corrections officers indicated this was normal because of the bright night lights in the cell blocks.

“COs did offer Ashley to move to a vacant cell within bloc Q because of the volume of the snoring,” Bourque wrote. “Ashley agreed to move and at no time indicate(d) there was or had been a problem within Q-4.”

At 5:20 a.m., officers went to try to check Gagnon’s blood sugar levels because of his diabetes, and discovered his injuries. “At the time of his admission (to Maine Medical Center) it was unknown if he would survive,” Bourque wrote.

Later, Maine State Police evidence recovery technicians found blood on walls in the cell, on the floor, and over the entire mattress.

Bourque wrote that another inmate told corrections officers that Ashley and Gagnon might have fought because Ashley was stealing commissary food items, including peanut butter and cookies, from Gagnon while Gagnon was out of the cell receiving treatment for diabetes.

Bourque said Ashley told officers he had been “sleeping on the floor when Gagnon asked him to kill him.”

Ashley said he refused and that Gagnon then repeatedly smashed his own head on the floor. Ashley told officers he cleaned up the blood with his T-shirt and washed it. Ashley was found wearing a T-shirt with Gagnon’s name on it.

Bourque also noted that the knuckles on Ashley’s right hand were swollen.

Ashley had been arrested Nov. 12, 2017, on charges of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon after allegedly pointing a gun at people on Littlefield Street in Augusta.

He remained in jail in lieu of $750 cash bail.

Attorney William Baghdoyan was appointed to represent Ashley in that case. Ashley is set for a Dec. 12 court hearing in the criminal threating case, and a Jan. 2, 2018, hearing on the aggravated assault charge.

An arrest warrant had been issued for Gagnon July 26 after a judge ordered him to pay $2,350 in partial back child support or spend 30 days in jail.

The state Department of Health & Human Services had sought payments from Gagnon for support of twins born in early 2000. A court order required him to pay $86 per week, but few of those payments were made, according to records in that case.

At one point in 2016, Gagnon paid $2,000 toward his debt, but as of March 28, 2017, he was out of compliance again, according to the state. Figures in the court file indicate the state calculated he owed $41,203.01 in April 2017, and the state was seeking a license suspension.

The department’s records indicate that if Gagnon could not pay, he was to provide weekly proof to the department that he was actively seeking a job.

Mason said that normally he would furlough Gagnon while he is hospitalized, but Gagnon cannot sign paperwork at this point.

“He’s just going to serve his sentence out in the hospital,” Mason said.

Mason said the county is paying for Gagnon’s care, which is on-going.

Ashley was moved to the “max block” in the jail, and is alone in his cell, Mason said.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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Twitter: @betadams