Two federal prison inmates stomped on a fellow inmate’s head and neck until he died in what prosecutors are calling a racially-motivated crime.
Prosecutors said the men killed the victim because he refused to protest the fact that he had a black cell mate.
A federal district court jury found Mr. Donald R. LaFond, Jr., 53, of New Bedford, Mass. and Mr. Jason Robert Widdison, 35, of Morgan, Utah, guilty of second-degree murder, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.
“The fact that this particular homicide was motivated by racial animus makes these defendants’ actions all the more reprehensible,” United States Attorney Mrs. Sally Quillian Yates said.
Prosecutors said On March 1, 2011, Mr. LaFond and Mr. Widdison, both members of white supremacist prison gangs, were exercising inside the special housing unit recreation area of the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta when the attack happened.
The victim, a white inmate who was not a gang member, joined the defendants in the area. He attempted to make conversation and walk around with them, according to court reports.
It’s unclear what he said.
“After a short period of time, LaFond and Widdison suddenly began to punch the victim from both front and behind, knocking the victim to the ground,” according to court records.
“Both LaFond and Widdison then stomped on the victim’s head and neck, as many as ten times each.”
A correction officer witnessed the incident and intervened. Both men complied with the officers’ orders to stop beating the victim, but by then, the victim was unconscious.
The victim was taken to a hospital but never regained consciousness. As a result of his injuries, the victim died on April 5, 2011.
It was revealed in trial that in the weeks leading up to the assault, Mr. LaFond and Mr. Widdison expressed anger towards the victim because the victim refused to protest the fact that he had a black cellmate.
The defendants pressured the victim to take any steps necessary to be reassigned to another cell.
Further evidence showed that the victim refused to comply with the defendants’ demands and that the defendants regarded this refusal as a violation of their gang code.
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