HEADLINE: Mississippi private prison inmate dies of head injuries
DATELINE: HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss.
BODY: An autopsy shows a 24-year-old inmate from Shannon died of head injuries apparently inflicted during a confrontation with other prisoners, state officials say.
Daniel Underwood was pronounced dead this past weekend at the Regional Medical Center in Memphis, Marshall County Coroner Chuck Thomas said Monday. He said an autopsy showed death was caused by head trauma.
Chris Epps, the Corrections Department's deputy commissioner of institutions, said Monday an investigation showed Underwood was attacked by another inmate at the Marshall County Correctional Facility on March 27.
"The investigation is continuing but the inmate that assaulted him (Underwood) obviously will be charged with murder," Epps said.
Epps said a second inmate apparently assisted in the attack by standing in a position that kept security personnel from seeing the incident.
The department declined to identify the two inmates, who were ordered held in isolation. Epps said along with possible criminal charges, the two also face disciplinary action.
E.L. Sparkman, the prison warden, declined Monday to discuss the death, referring questions to the Corrections Department.
The Marshall County prison is managed by Wackenhut Corrections Corp.
Dale Graham, Underwood's mother, said her son was beaten by other inmates. She said he had been held at the prison "for some time" after committing a nonviolent offense.
"They hit his head on a steel metal box that had a fire extinguisher inside it," Graham said. "They mashed his head against it until they beat him unconscious."
"The first few days, he was a little groggy, but he was fine," Graham said. "His memory was a little off. On the third day, he had every memory back. He said he knew what happened."
Underwood related the events of the fight in the presence of his mother, brother and a police officer, said Graham.
A few days later, "he was eating, he was normal, fine," said Graham. "I told him, 'I'll see you tomorrow.' I came back the next day and he was brain dead."
The Marshall County Correctional Facility houses up to 1,000 inmates. It employs 241 workers and has a $10 million budget.