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Convicted killer Kenneth Gleason commits suicide in Angola prison cell, officials say

Kenneth Gleason
Kenneth Gleason(KNOE)
Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 2:59 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2021 at 5:34 PM CDT
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ANGOLA, La. (WAFB) - A Baton Rouge man, who was convicted earlier this year and sentenced to life in prison for the racially motivated killings of two men in 2017, has been found dead from an apparent hanging at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

Two sources familiar with the incident tell WAFB’s Austin Kemker that the convicted killer, Kenneth Gleason, was found with a bed sheet around his neck on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

The Louisiana Department of Corrections (DOC) later released a statement confirming Gleason committed suicide in his prison cell around 12 a.m. Wednesday.

“While making routine rounds, correctional officers discovered Gleason unresponsive and hanging in his cell. Gleason has been an inmate at the prison since September 20, 2021. He was in a single-man cell, and per COVID-19 protocols for new inmates, he was quarantined for 14 days.

The West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office and Louisiana State Penitentiary have launched an investigation. As such, no further details are available at this time,” DOC Communications Director Ken Pastorick said in a statement.

RELATED: Kenneth Gleason sentenced to life in prison for 2017 murders

Records show Gleason was transferred from the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola on Sept. 20.

A jury found Gleason guilty of first-degree murder for the murders of Donald Smart and Bruce Coefield on April 27.

The East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s office did not seek the death penalty in this case after Smart’s family reportedly asked for a life sentence instead.

Gleason was sentenced to life in prison by 19th Judicial District Judge Beau Higginbotham on Aug. 23 for the murders of Smart and Coefield.

During sentencing, Judge Higginbotham said the death penalty would be the “appropriate sentence in this matter,” adding to Gleason “there is nothing the penal system can do to rehab you.”

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