Thursday, September 6, 2007
killed in prison
By SUE WATSON
Death row inmate Earnest Lee Hargon of Yazoo County is dead following a prison stabbing Tuesday, Aug. 28, in Unit 32 at the state penitentiary.
Hargon was being held in the supermaximum security unit for violent offenders on death row for the murder of three of his family members.
A jury was selected in Marshall County in November 2005 and transported to Yazoo County to hear the case on December 1, after Hargon’s attorney asked for a change of venue due to pretrial publicity.
The jury convicted Hargon of capital murder in the death of his cousin Michael Hargon, Michael’s wife Rebecca Hargon and their 4-year-old son James Patrick near their home in Vaughn on Valentine’s Day 2004.
During the sentencing phase, the jury said Hargon should receive the death penalty for the murder of the mother and child and life imprisonment for the murder of his cousin.
Hargon was pronounced dead by Sunflower County coroner Douglas Card at 9:22 p.m., August 28, in the emergency room of the prison hospital after he was killed around 8:30 p.m., according to a Clarion Ledger report.
He was stabbed 30 times over his face, head and body by a fellow inmate while cleaning cells inside Unit 32, according to a report by WTVA Channel 9 in Tupelo.
Hargon is the third inmate killed since June in Unit 32, according to media sources. Boris Harper was killed in June by a fellow inmate who made a spear out of a mop handle. Donald Reed was killed and two others injured in an incident July 25 at the Unit where 10 inmates with homemade knives attacked seven others.
The prison murders have been attributed to gang violence by Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps, one news source said.
Unit 32 has been under investigation since the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit against Mississippi Department of Corrections over conditions there.
A guard interviewed by WTVA Thursday and remaining anonymous said a staff shortage contributes to the problem at Unit 32.
Hargon was 46.
In an interview of several of the jurors who heard evidence presented in court at Hargon’s trial, they said the trial was emotional due to the evidence presented. But jurors said they felt it was their civic duty. One juror said the sentencing phase of the trial was most difficult.
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