published Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

2 prisoners charged in Hays inmate's death

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

  • photo
    Derick Stubbs sent this photo he took of himself to his girlfriend before he was killed at Hays State Prison in Trion, Ga.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The third inmate killed at Hays State Prison in a month's time was ambushed in the prison's courtyard by at least two other inmates, sources confirmed.

State investigators said 30-year-old Nathaniel Reynolds was killed as he was being escorted to another prison building. Two inmates have been charged in connection with Reynolds' death.

On Tuesday, Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents charged Ricardo Beltran-Gonzales and Leonardo Rodriques with murder, department spokesman John Bankhead said. Beltran-Gonzales is serving a 30-year sentence for trafficking cocaine, while Rodriques is serving a 10-year term for involuntary manslaughter.

Jerry Scott, GBI special agent in charge, declined to say where Reynolds, a convicted murderer serving a life sentence, was coming from when he was attacked. But multiple sources inside the prison say Reynolds was ambushed as he was leaving the prison's holding cell and heading back to his dorm. No one should have known where he was, the sources said.

"Those inmates were outside the door," said a prison guard, who asked to be anonymous for fear of retaliation. "They stabbed [Reynolds] before he got his foot in his dorm."

After the third Hays inmate death since December, the close-security prison in Trion, Ga., has not allowed inmates to leave their cells, Department of Corrections field operations manager Rick Jacobs said.

Jacobs said the prison will stay on lockdown, meaning inmates will be allowed out of their cells only for recreation and showers, until correction officials "feel comfortable" returning to the prison's regular mode.

Jacobs declined to discuss details of Reynolds' death.

The GBI hasn't released any details on the death of Derrick Stubbs, who was beaten so severely that he died from his injuries after he was put in protective custody on Dec. 19.

The other victim, Damion MacClain, was strangled and beaten in his bed on Christmas night after the doors to his cell should have been locked. Inmate Daniel Ferguson, a murderer already sentenced to life, has been charged in connection with MacClain's death.

Both inmates' families said they were extorted to send money by other inmates before their loved ones were killed.

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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