Valdosta prison inmate dies; homicide suspected

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VALDOSTA — Authorities are investigating Wednesday’s death of a Valdosta prison inmate as a homicide.

Prince Blige, 55, died at a local hospital at 11:38 a.m., according to a statement from the Georgia Department of Corrections. Investigators believe he had been injured in a fight with another inmate, the statement said.

The corrections department is investigating the death together with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Blige was serving a life sentence for a 1990 rape in Chatham County, and had a history of convictions including burglary, shoplifting and obstruction of an officer, according to corrections department records.

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

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

• Elander Johnson died July 25 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, 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 after a suicide attempt, according to state prison officials.

• Kealy Williams, 37, died March 30 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 December 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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