Two Inmates Charged in Death of Elderly Cellmate at Southern Regional Jail

Two inmates at Southern Regional Jail have been charged with homicide in the death of a 79-year-old man who shared a cell with them on October 29, 2022.

All of this is claimed in a criminal complaint submitted to the Raleigh County Magistrate Court on June 7, 2023.

On June 8, 2023, Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Hatfield announced that Isaiah McBride, 27, and Lucas Wagner, 28, are facing multiple charges related to the death of Douglas Cunningham, including homicide by a prisoner.

For offenses committed by prisoners, Chapter 62 of the West Virginia Code permits the accusations.

Wagner and McBride won’t be eligible for leniency at punishment if they are found guilty.

According to Hatfield, “We intend to use Chapter 62 as a little bit of a sword to help us get a handle on the problems that are persisting outside of Southern Regional Jail.” “We hope that this discourages them,”

The tweet below confirms the news:

Many offenses, according to Hatfield, are covered by the code, and his office will use Chapter 62 prosecutions to dissuade crimes committed by prisoners against guards and other prisoners.

According to the criminal complaint, at about 3:05 pm on October 29, Raleigh County 911 dispatchers informed West Virginia State Police troopers that Cunningham was being transported to Beckley ARH Hospital by ambulance.

About 40 minutes later, he was declared dead.

When the investigating state trooper dialed Southern Regional Jail, a jail staff member said Officer Cunningham was sent there for “what looked like a medical emergency.”

Police were informed by Dr. Jacqueline Benjamin of the West Virginia State Medical Examiner’s Office on November 1, 2022, that Cunningham had broken ribs close to his back and new bruises on his face, neither of which were consistent with CPR.

Inmate Abuse Alleged at Southern Regional Jail

According to the complaint, the contact form Benjamin prompted officers to meet with the prison officer assigned to the case at Southern Regional Jail.

Police were told by the jail officer that Cunningham had been kept in Pod A, a suicide watch pod. Inmate cell doors had been closed and locked as a result, claims the lawsuit.

When detectives questioned Cunningham’s cellmates, they learned that jail personnel had “brought the victim into the cell in a wheelchair and was placed on the floor.”

One of Cunningham’s cellmates claimed Wagnar and McBride started spitting and urinating on him while accusing him of being a “child molester.”

Hatfield charged Wagnar with penetration by an inmate, a felony after the cellmate claimed the two men punched Cunningham in the groin, kicked him in the stomach, stole his lunch plate, and Wagnar pierced the victim with an item.

According to the criminal complaint, Wagnar leaped from a bunk bed onto the old man, and Wagnar and McBride began to kick and punch him, especially close to his kidneys.

Around 3 p.m., Wagner informed police that he had been sleeping when he discovered Cunningham had no pulse. He insisted that McBride had attacked the victim but denied ever hurting Cunningham.

According to the complaint, McBride admitted to punching the victim in the face and informed authorities that he had been sexually molested as a child.

The West Virginia State Police received word from the State Medical Examiner’s Office on February 24, 2023, that Cunningham had died of coronary artery disease, with high blood pressure, diabetes, and blunt force trauma to the head, chest, and abdomen as contributing factors.

However, the complaint states that the death was determined to be a homicide.

According to Hatfield, the West Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office’s determination that death was a homicide has a significant impact on the capacity of law enforcement officials to pursue homicide cases.

If you are interested in learning more about this subject, I suggest checking out the following links:

Witness Claims McBride Confessed to Killing Another Prisoner in Similar Fashion: Second Accused Victim Named

According to the police complaint, a witness claimed McBride admitted to killing another prisoner “pretty much the same way” as Cunningham. The prisoner identified “Allen Shrewsbury” as the second accused murder victim.

Alvis Shrewsbury, according to Wyoming County resident Miranda Smith, passed away in August 2022 after spending 19 days in Southern Regional Jail on a DUI conviction. She made this statement on Thursday, June 8, 2023.

Smith claimed that her father had been assaulted and that other prisoners had stolen his meal tray, which had led to his weight loss.

According to the West Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office, Shrewsbury passed away naturally from an upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage, according to Smith.

Shrewsbury’s relatives recorded facial bruises while he was incarcerated. A legal claim has been made against Southern Regional Jail.

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