By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

A jury yesterday found a former correctional officer with the Del Norte County Sheriffs Department, James Brian Weaver, 33, guilty of having sex with a female inmate while he worked at the jail.

With his wife and child standing behind him, Weaver showed no emotion as the clerk read the jurys verdict of guilty on one felony count of oral copulation with an inmate, and not guilty on five other counts. Weaver immediately left the Del Norte County Courthouse after Judge Robert Weir dismissed court.

A smiling District Attorney Robert Drossel was continually congratulated as he walked through the courthouse building yesterday afternoon on what he said was a victory for the prosecution.

Im very happy, said Drossel. Obviously, I know this was a tough case for the prosecution, but the jury worked very hard on it and were out for several hours. It was a case that needed to be tried because of the seriousness of the allegations.

Defense attorney Edward Fishman of Petaluma was unavailable for comment yesterday afternoon as he polled several jurors about their decision.

Weavers case began last spring when he became the focus of a sheriffs office investigation, which included placing a hidden microphone on a woman named Natalie Curington. Curington engaged Weaver in a conversation about a sexual liaison the two had while she was an inmate at the jail.

Although Weavers responses during the conversation were often unclear, his lack of denial in his conversation with Carington became a cornerstone of the prosecutions case.

Fishman never put Weaver on the stand during the trial. He instead based his defense on the credibility of the two women inmates who testified against his client.

The two charges against Weaver on behalf of a second inmate, Kindra Richcreek, were quickly discarded by the jury, according to Drossel after speaking with the jury foreperson.

Weaver is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 3, 2002, at 2 p.m.