Two men under maximum security at the Calhoun County Jail were charged with assault last month after they stabbed another man, Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade said on Friday.
Tyrone Thompson and Vonta McClellan, both charged with capital murder in separate cases, assaulted Kenyata Burton, also charged with capital murder in a third case, with a “modified writing instrument,” Wade said.
Because of the Thompson’s, McClellan’s, and Burton’s prior charges, the men were in maximum security, where the door to only one cell should be open at a time, Wade said.
“A corrections officer did not follow protocol and that person lost their job over it,” the sheriff said, declining to name the former employee.
The assault took place Nov. 3, according to arrest warrants filed in court records earlier this month for Thompson and McClellan. The two were each arrested on first-degree assault charges on Dec. 12 and were to appear in court Thursday for a preliminary hearing.
District Judge Chris McIntyre, however, asked for McClellan and Thompson not to be brought over due to the number of inmates on the docket, and for security reasons.
“We’re kind of in a holding pattern with them,” he said.
Wade said inmates in maximum security are allowed one hour a day outside of their cells to shower, use the phone, or watch TV. Due to a lack of space, many inmates in maximum security have a cellmate, the sheriff said.
“Mr. Burton was out of his cell when the corrections officer opened another door and let Mr. Thompson and McClellan out,” Wade said. “That goes against protocol.”
Wade said Thompson and McClellan chased Burton around the cell block and “punctured him with a shank.”
“They weren’t life-threatening injuries,” the sheriff said.
The corrections officer had worked at the jail for less than a year before the November incident, Wade said.
“It’s hard finding experienced or responsible people when we only pay $10 an hour,” he said.
Thompson and McClellan are the two longest-serving inmates at the jail, the sheriff said. Housing inmates for seven years in Thompson’s case and five years in McClellan’s case can create dangerous situations.
“They get bored or they get frustrated they’ve been here that long,” Wade said. “Then they act out. We’re really ready to see them move on.”
Wade may see the relief he seeks as Calhoun County judges have set at least 13 murder and capital murder cases for trial this year.
Thompson was charged in 2011 with capital murder in connection to the kidnapping and death of Wellborn teacher Kevin Thompson. Circuit Judge Debra Jones last month set Thompson’s trial for late September.
McClellan was charged with capital murder in connection with the 2013 death of 5-year-old Gregory Caver. Prosecutors have said Caver was beaten with a belt — which caused blunt-force trauma, and ultimately his death — because he wet himself. McClellan’s then-girlfriend and the child’s mother, India Kimble, was also charged with capital murder.
Burton was charged with capital murder in 2015 in connection to the 2012 shooting death of 24-year-old Army National Guard sergeant Dequirea Royal.Burton had previously been charged with murder in the case in 2013, but the charges were later dropped after Calhoun County Circuit Judge Brian Howell felt there was not enough evidence for a trial.