published Friday, December 28th, 2012

Within week, 2 die at Hays State Prison in Trion, Ga.

Hays State Prison
Hays State Prison
Photo by Staff File Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The death of an inmate on Christmas night at Hays State Prison in Trion, Ga., was the second in a week.

State investigators say they don't believe the deaths are related, though both died in the same cellblock at the maximum security prison.

"They weren't tied any way together," Georgia Bureau of Investigations Agent James Harris said. "That was the first thing on our minds."

Damien McClain, 27, who was serving time on two armed robbery convictions, was killed in a prison cell late Christmas night after getting in a fight with another inmate, Harris said.

On Thursday, GBI agents arrested inmate Daniel Ferguson and charged him with murder in McClain's death. Ferguson, who already is serving a life sentence for murder, was taken to the Chattooga County Jail to be booked and then likely will be returned to Hays to await a transfer, officials said.

GBI agents were at the prison Thursday investigating McClain's death and that of 25-year-old Derrick Stubbs, who was found dead Dec. 19.

While Georgia Department of Corrections officials have been mum on Stubbs' death, his mother, Shawn Singleton, said she was told her son was being held in protective custody after a fight when he was found dead. Stubbs had been at Hays for more than a year on two counts of armed robbery.

Singleton, who is burying her son today in Chicago, is searching for more answers to what happened, but she said corrections officials won't return her calls.

Hays -- which was named Georgia's prison of the year in July -- also had two prison guards hospitalized in February after they were assaulted by multiple inmates. Another inmate was stabbed to death in August 2011 by multiple inmates in an early morning attack.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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