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Inmate may have been murdered

According to Department of Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens, one of two recent reported suicides on Georgia’s death row may not have been a suicide. On Dec. 6, condemned killer Timothy Pruitt died at Augusta State Medical Prison after sustaining injuries on Nov. 19 when he was found on the floor of his cell with a sheet wrapped around his neck. On New Year’s Day, guards found death-row inmate Leeland Mark Braley hanging in his cell. Both were on death row at the state Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson. Georgia’s top Department of Corrections official has now acknowledged that one of two recent reported suicides on Georgia’s death row may not have been a suicide. When asked about one of the inmate’s deaths, Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens told the agency’s board, “One of them may not be a suicide.” A number of family members of death-row inmates have said Pruitt’s death was not a suicide and that he was likely killed by another death row inmate, Sara Totonchi, director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, said Friday. Corrections officials initially called Pruitt’s death an “alleged suicide.” Pruitt, 43, was sentenced to death for the 1992 rape and murder of Wendy Vincent, a 10-year-old Lumpkin County girl. Braley, 35, was sentenced to death in 1999 for the kidnapping and stabbing death of Kelli Hammond, an insurance agent from Zebulon. An internal investigation is ongoing.

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