Inmate dies at Valdosta State Prison; homicide suspected

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VALDOSTA — Authorities are investigating a Wednesday death at Valdosta State Prison as a homicide.

Investigators believe inmate Bobby Carpenter died from injuries following a fight with another inmate, according to a Georgia Department of Corrections statement. Medical personnel were summoned and life-saving measures were attempted but he died at 7:48 a.m. at the prison, the statement said.

The cause of death appeared to be stab wounds, Lowndes County Coroner Austin Fiveash said.

Carpenter’s body was sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab in Macon for an autopsy, the coroner said.

Carpenter was sentenced in Cherokee County in 2016 to serve 20 years for armed robbery, the corrections department said. The department is conducting the investigation.

Carpenter’s death is the latest in a long line of deaths at Valdosta State Prison in recent years:

• Orvonta Tillman is believed to have died June 15 as a result of injuries sustained during an altercation with another inmate. Fiveash said Tillman died of stab wounds.

Prince Blige, 55, died Feb. 11; he was believed to have been killed in an inmate fight, the corrections department said.

• On Sept. 5, 2019, Brodrick Seals, 28, died after being found unresponsive in his cell; authorities believe his death was a suicide.

• Elander Johnson died July 25, 2019, as a result of injuries apparently sustained during an altercation involving another inmate in a case being investigated as a homicide, according to the corrections department.

• On May 26, 2019, guards found Astair Holmes Jr. unresponsive in his cell; prison officials were investigating his death as a possible suicide.

• Inmate Simon Warren died April 14, 2019, after a suicide attempt, according to state prison officials.

• Kealy Williams, 37, died March 30, 2019, from injuries caused by a fight with another inmate, according to a corrections department statement.

• In August 2018, Joshua Roman died of injuries sustained in a fight, according to the corrections department.

• In July 2018, Herman Galeno, 31, was found unresponsive in his cell.

• In June 2018, David Cordova was found unresponsive in his cell.

• In April 2018, Joseph Pagen's death following a fight was investigated as a homicide, the corrections department said.

• In March 2018, Benjamin Snyder died following an inmate fight; the corrections department investigated his death as a homicide.

On Dec. 4, 2017, inmate Jenna Mitchell died of apparent suicide. Her family has filed a lawsuit against the state prison system claiming her death was due to deliberate "indifference" to her medical and mental health needs, according to court documents.

Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.

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