Guard Has Surgery After Attack

A state prison guard underwent surgery Wednesday to remove bone fragments from his skull after allegedly being attacked by an inmate jailed for first-degree murder.

Clarence Wooten, 60, was pummeled Tuesday with a 3-foot-long steel tool used in the prison laundry to pry open 55-gallon drums of soap, said Dean Crenshaw, the warden's administrative assistant at the state prison in Lancaster.

Prison authorities said Wooten was attacked by Alexander Di Rossi, who was sentenced in the 1970s to life in prison.

Di Rossi was angry after he was removed from a job assignment for disciplinary reasons, Crenshaw said. "We suspect that this is in retaliation," Crenshaw said.

Other members of the staff moved in almost immediately after the attack began because a fellow employee set off an alarm, Crenshaw said.

Wooten was rushed to the prison infirmary where medical staff administered emergency treatment before he was transported to Antelope Valley Hospital Medical Center.

Authorities were investigating whether Di Rossi was assisted in the attack and whether there were witnesses, Crenshaw said.

Wooten's surgery was scheduled to take as long as eight hours. Hospital officials declined to release Wooten's condition.

Di Rossi, who has been imprisoned in Lancaster since 1993, was placed in administrative segregation pending an investigation.

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