LCI inmate used brick from cell wall in fatal beating

A convicted murderer, who may have been using illegal drugs, used a brick from the wall of a cell at Lebanon Correctional Institute to beat another inmate to death this week, according to the Ohio Highway Patrol.

Contrary to initial reports, Luther Wade, 26, of Springfield was not beaten to death with a brick during a fight with his cellmate, investigators said Friday.

Wade was beaten multiple times with a cinder block removed from the wall of the segregation cell he shared with the suspect, according to Sgt. James Schlotterbeck of the Ohio Highway Patrol.

The suspect was in the segregation cell for failing to return to his regular cell on a guard’s order, according to Schlotterbeck. Wade was placed in the segregation cell for disciplinary action, possibly for theft, he said. They had been together in the cell for about a day.

The segregation cell removes inmates facing disciplinary action or who warrant segregation for some other reason from the general jail population. Two inmates are held in one segregation cell in state prisons in Ohio.

In November 2000, Jason Wagner, an inmate at Warren Correctional Institution, next door to Lebanon Correctional, was strangled to death by his cellmate, also a convicted murderer.

Relatives are questioning why Wade, who was serving a 10-year sentence for aggravated burglary, was in a cell with a suspect serving a life sentence, a convicted murderer out of Ross County.

“(The inmate involved in the beating death) should never have been around anybody. He should have been alone. He’s dangerous,” Thomas Wade, the victim’s uncle, said Friday.

The Ohio Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation referred questions to the Ohio Highway Patrol.

Schlotterbeck was unable to explain how a piece of the wall was available as a weapon or if the suspect was responsible for removing it from the wall.

Toxicology tests, which could take several months to be completed, will determine whether Wade’s death was related to his cellmate’s “state of mind” due to his possible use of drugs, Schlotterbeck said Friday.

It could be weeks or months before the case is presented to a grand jury, Schlotterbeck said, adding that the suspect remains at LCI but may be transferred to another prison pending an administrative hearing.

Wade’s body was released to his family Friday, according to his uncle.

Wade was pronounced dead at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Atrium Medical Center, about 30 minutes after he was found at the prison, outside Lebanon. He died of multiple blunt force trauma, according to Doyle Burke, chief investigator of the Warren County Coroner's Office. However, no official ruling has been made on manner or cause of death, officials said Friday.

Between 2000 and 2014, 26 homicides were committed in Ohio prisons, including one at Lebanon Correctional, according to a report by the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee.

Violence in Ohio prisons declined by nearly 12 percent from its peak in 2011, but Lebanon Correctional Institution had the highest number of violent incidents — 2,595 over a three-year period, according to a report published earlier this year by this newspaper.

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