Two inmates charged with killing four others at South Carolina prison

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 08, 2017 3:03 PM

By Gina Cherelus

(Reuters) - Two South Carolina prisoners admitted to killing four fellow inmates at the state prison where they were both serving life sentences for murder, local media reported on Saturday.

Four convicts were coaxed into a cell at Kirkland Correctional Institution in Columbia on Friday by Denver Simmons, 35, and Jacob Philip, 25, who then attacked and strangled the men, Thom Berry, spokesman for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, told the Post and Courier newspaper.

Spokespeople from the state's law enforcement division and from the correctional facility could not immediately be reached for comment.

Simmons and Philip, who have each been charged with four counts of murder, confessed to luring the men into a cell and attacking them, according to arrest warrants obtained by the Post and Courier. Two out of the four inmates were also beaten or stabbed with a broken broomstick. The attacks were partially caught on video.

Prison officials found John King, 52; Jason Kelley, 35; Jimmy Ham, 56; and William Scruggs, 44; dead in a cell at the all-male maximum-security prison on Friday morning.

The motive behind the attacks or how the victims were lured was not immediately clear.

Simmons and Philip are currently serving life sentences for unrelated double murders.

Philip pleaded guilty in 2015 to strangling his 26-year-old girlfriend and her 8-year-old daughter in Summerville, South Carolina, according to police records acquired by local media.

Simmons pleaded guilty in 2010 in the 2007 shooting death of Sheila Dodd, 45, and her 13-year-old son, William.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Frank McGurty and Leslie Adler)