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Georgia corrections officer killed by inmate with homemade weapon, officials say

Georgia corrections officer killed by inmate with homemade weapon, officials say

Thao Nguyen
 USA TODAYplayShow CaptionHide Caption#videoDetailsToggle{color:var( –color-dove-gray,rgba(0,0,0,.6));cursor:pointer;display:inline-block;font-family:var(–sans-serif,sans-serif);font-size:var(–type-7);font-weight:var( –font-weight-bold,900);line-height:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px);margin-bottom:-8px}#vdt_hide{margin-bottom:10px}.vdt-flex[hidden]{display:none}.vdt-svg{fill:var( –color-dove-gray,rgba(0,0,0,.6));height:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px);width:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px)}Escaped murderer captured and arraigned in PennsylvaniaA murderer who escaped from a Pennsylvania jail and eluded capture for two weeks was caught Wednesday by a team of tactical officers. Danelo Cavalcante was quickly arraigned at a state police barracks and sent to prison. (Sept. 13) (AP Video: Tassanee Vejpongsa)AP

A correctional officer at a southeast Georgia prison was killed after he was assaulted with a “homemade weapon” by an inmate, state officials said Sunday.

Robert Clark, 42, died at a hospital after an inmate attacked him at Smith State Prison in rural Glennville, about 60 miles west of Savannah, Georgia, the Georgia Department of Corrections said in a news release. The correctional officer was escorting two inmates, Layton Lester and Marko Willingham, from the prison dining hall Sunday when Lester attacked him from behind, the department said.

Willingham stepped in to help Clark but was also assaulted. Both Clark and Willingham were transported to local hospitals, according to the department.

Willingham remained hospitalized Sunday with injuries the agency described as non-life threatening. Clark, who started working at Smith State Prison in April, “tragically succumbed to his injuries at the hospital,” the department confirmed.

“The entire GDC team is mourning the loss of one of our own and we collectively express our deepest condolences to Officer Clark’s family and friends,” Corrections Commissioner Tyrone Oliver said in a statement. “We will support them as they navigate this tragedy over the coming days, weeks, and months.”

Clark’s death is the latest incident at the troubled Smith State Prison and Georgia prison system, where contraband issues and corruption resulted in arrests of hundreds of prison employees — including Smith State Prison’s former warden Brian Dennis Adams.

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Georgia prison guards have been arrested for contraband since 2018

Lester is facing charges in the assault and resulting death of Clark, and the assault of Willingham, the Georgia Department of Corrections said. Lester is serving a life sentence for a murder conviction stemming from a 2007 killing and armed robbery in Tift County, the agency’s online records show.

In February, Adams was arrested and charged with bribery, conspiracy to violate Georgia’s anti-racketeering law, making false statements, and violating his oath of office, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said.

The charges stemmed from a state investigation of corruption inside the prison, according to the bureau. The investigation began in May 2022 after an inmate was charged with smuggling contraband and conspiring in a 2021 murder outside the prison.

The inmate, Nathan Weekes, was an alleged member of the “Yves Saint Laurent Squad” — a gang that smuggles contraband into Smith State Prison. In March, grand jurors indicted Weekes and two other members of the gang for malice murder, felony murder, and aggravated assault in the 2021 homicide.

Last month, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed that at least 360 employees of Georgia’s state prison system have been arrested on accusations of smuggling contraband into prisons since 2018.

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Contributing: The Associated Press

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