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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Man Serving Sex Assault Sentence Killed

Inmate Died From Head, Chest Trauma
11-26-2007 South Carolina:

RIDGELAND, S.C. -- Department of Corrections officials said that a Spartanburg man who was serving a sentence for sexual exploitation of minors was found dead at the prison.

An autopsy found that Thomas Walter Turner, 40, died of head and chest trauma.

Authorities said that they had initially thought that Turner died of natural causes. He was found dead at Ridgeland Correctional Institution about 8:45 p.m. on Nov. 20.

South Carolina Department of Corrections Communications Director Josh Gelinas said an investigation was begun immediately after the autopsy results were released.

In October 2005, Turner started serving a 16-year sentence for criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

Ridgeland is a medium security facility.

Turner was arrested in May 2005 after State Law Enforcement agents found pictures of boys and girls having sex on Turner's home computer.

At the time of that arrest, Turner was a registered sex offender, having been convicted of criminal sexual conduct with a minor in 1998. ..more.. by


Inmate found not guilty of murder


RIDGELAND - An inmate accused of killing another prisoner at the Ridgeland Correctional Institution was acquitted on murder and armed robbery charges at trial last week.

Wendell Wilkins, who was 20 when he allegedly beat, choked and stabbed Thomas Walter Turner, 40, at the Ridgeland prison on Nov. 20, 2007, was found not guilty after a three-day trial.

Another inmate, Thomas Lee Pelzer, 20, is also charged and scheduled to go to court in October if there is enough court time following a separate murder trial.

At the time of the slaying, Wilkins was serving 10 years for an armed robbery in Spartanburg County and Pelzer was serving six years for assault with intent to kill conviction in Orangeburg County.

Turner was serving 16 years for criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

Wilkins and Pelzer allegedly robbed Turner for a watch at the medium-security facility in Ridgeland which houses about 1,300 inmates.

The attack allegedly happened in a cell while other inmates had freedom to move around within the pod. ..Source.. by Stephanie Ingersoll

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