In­mate dies af­ter as­sault; po­lice call case homi­cide

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - JOHN MORITZ

A prisoner serv­ing a 10-year term for man­slaugh­ter died Thurs­day, nearly two weeks af­ter he was in­volved in an as­sault at the Tucker Unit, ac­cord­ing to pris­ons spokesman Solomon Graves.

Graves said it “would be a stretch” to con­nect the July 28 as­sault that in­jured John De­moret, 25, to ei­ther of a pair of in­ci­dents that oc­curred in re­cent weeks at the Max­i­mum Se­cu­rity Unit, a sep­a­rate fa­cil­ity also in Tucker.

The most re­cent dis­tur­bance at the Max­i­mum Se­cu­rity Unit oc­curred Mon­day, when six in­mates over­pow­ered cor­rec­tions of­fi­cers and took con­trol of a small area of the prison for about three hours.

The Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tion on Thurs­day re­leased the names of the three of­fi­cers who were held by the in­mates. They were Sgt. Levester John­son and Lt. Wil­lie Carmickle, both veter­ans with years of ex­pe­ri­ence, and cor­rec­tional of­fi­cer Ge­orge Thomas, who be­gan work­ing for the depart­ment in Jan­uary.

De­moret died at a Malvern-area hos­pi­tal around 6:15 a.m. Thurs­day of undis­closed in­juries, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tion.

The in­mate had been taken to the hos­pi­tal ear­lier in the morn­ing from Oua­chita River Cor­rec­tional Unit, where he had been at the prison hos­pi­tal since shortly af­ter the as­sault nearly two weeks ago.

An Arkansas State Po­lice spokesman said Thurs­day that an ear­lier in­ves­ti­ga­tion

of an as­sault at the prison was now con­sid­ered a homi­cide case. No ar­rests have been made.

The cause of De­moret’s death is still be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the state med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s of­fice.

Graves said the last death at a prison to be ruled a homi­cide was in April 2016, when an in­mate was shot while try­ing to es­cape. The death was jus­ti­fied, Graves said.

Nei­ther the state po­lice nor the prison sys­tem re­leased ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion about the at­tack that led to De­moret’s death, or how he was in­volved.

De­moret ar­rived at the Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tion in 2012, Graves said. The year be­fore, he pleaded guilty to killing Dave Martin Kel­ley, 53, dur­ing a fight at De­moret’s home in Malvern.

Wit­nesses told po­lice in an af­fi­davit filed in Hot Spring County Cir­cuit Court that Kel­ley and an­other man showed up at De­moret’s home on Nov. 24, 2010, and be­gan hit­ting De­moret, be­fore a friend pulled a shot­gun and told them to stop.

The fight stopped, but De­moret grabbed the shot­gun, a Moss­berg 12-gauge, and shot Kel­ley at close range, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit.

Court records show pros­e­cu­tors of­fered De­moret 20 years on a sec­ond-de­gree mur­der charge, but that he planned to ar­gue self-de­fense in court. De­moret later pleaded guilty and ac­cepted a 10-year sen­tence for man­slaugh­ter.

De­moret also was con­victed of sec­ond-de­gree es­cape in Novem­ber 2011, but it’s un­clear when or where that oc­curred.

He spent nearly all of last year at the state’s high­est-se­cu­rity prison, Varner Su­per­Max, be­fore be­ing trans­ferred to the Tucker Unit, prison records show.

Af­ter Mon­day’s dis­tur­bance at the nearby Max­i­mum Se­cu­rity Unit, the six in­mates who started it were trans­ferred to the Varner Su­per­Max prison.

Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tion Di­rec­tor Wendy Kel­ley said Thurs­day that the in­mates had spo­ken to ne­go­tia­tors dur­ing the in­ci­dent and asked to be sent to the Varner Su­per­Max prison.

It’s un­clear why they wanted to go to the higher-se­cu­rity fa­cil­ity, but Kel­ley said they are now be­ing kept in even more re­stric­tive puni­tive iso­la­tion cells there.

Doc­u­ments re­leased to jour­nal­ists Tues­day in­di­cated the pris­on­ers had a key with them on the bus while they were be­ing taken to Varner. Their names have not been re­leased.

On July 22, two guards were in­jured while re­spond­ing to a stab­bing at the Max­i­mum Se­cu­rity Unit, and warn­ing shots were fired.

All three in­ci­dents are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated sep­a­rately by the state po­lice.

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