- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 17, 2002

An inmate was stabbed to death at the D.C. Jail during the weekend in the second fatal knifing in less than a week.
Mikal Gaither, 23, a pretrial detainee being held on drug charges, was stabbed in his cell by another inmate Saturday night and died Sunday at Washington Hospital Center, corrections officials said.
Givon Pendelton, 24, was stabbed to death Wednesday night in the jail gymnasium after an argument about a milk carton in the jail cafeteria. Pendelton also was a pretrial detainee being held on cocaine charges.
"When you put violent offenders together, these random acts of violence sometimes occur," Corrections Department Director Odie Washington said yesterday. "Obviously, we are very surprised at the two incidents occurring as quickly as they did, but what we have been able to determine so far is the two assaults don't appear to be related."
Mr. Washington said officials have identified several suspects in each killing. The killings were the first in the jail since 1998.
He said the area of the jail in which the first stabbing occurred was locked down and searched last week but that the entire jail was locked down indefinitely after Sunday's killing. Corrections officials will search for any forbidden items, including "shanks," which are sharpened pieces of metal or plastic that inmates use as knives.
"They can find an opportunity to fashion a weapon out of almost anything," Mr. Washington said.
He said there was no timeline for concluding the search. "We will not be in a rush to come off lockdown."
D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson, chairman of the Judiciary Committee that oversees the Department of Corrections, said she believed the problem was related to jail overcrowding.
In June, a federal judge lifted a population cap imposed in August 1985 that limited to 1,674 the number of inmates that could be housed in the facility.
Mr. Washington said that because of cell renovation the facility could safely house 2,424 inmates. Mrs. Patterson said her figures indicated that the jail population, which was at 2,309 on Dec. 9, spiked to 2,425 Saturday.
Mrs. Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat, said she plans to introduce legislation today that would restore the cap to 1,674 inmates.
"I think 2,400 is way too high," she said. "The danger has increased since the population has increased."
Mr. Washington said Sunday's killing likely was unrelated to jail population, adding that officials suspect Gaither's stabbing was the result of a feud that began in the community and carried over into the jail.
D.C. Superior Court records show Gaither and Pendelton had been freed after their initial charges but were jailed when they violated their conditions for release.
Gaither, of the 4800 block of Eads Street NE, was awaiting sentencing for his conviction on distribution of crack cocaine. He was charged Nov. 20, 2001.
He pleaded guilty after he agreed to undergo drug treatment. His case was continued until he enrolled in treatment. When he failed to return for a hearing on Oct. 15, a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Gaither surrendered to the court Dec. 3 and was ordered sent to the D.C. Jail. His next scheduled hearing was Jan. 17.
Gaither's criminal history began in December 1997 when he was charged with domestic assault, but those charges were dropped. Other charges for possession of marijuana in 2000 also were dropped or the charges were dismissed, court records show.
Pendelton, of the 2100 block of Brooks Drive in Forestville, also was sent to the D.C. Jail after violating the terms of his release for his arrest on possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute. He was indicted on July 25 after being arrested at the intersection of Anacostia Drive and the 11th Street Bridge in Southeast.
Police found 21 small bags with crack cocaine inside his car.
On Oct. 25, his personal recognizance bond was revoked when he failed to appear in court. He was scheduled to return to court March 3.
At the time of his arrest, he was on two years probation from Prince George's County on an assault charge and two separate assault charges and a domestic assault charge in the District. He was sentenced in Maryland to five years in prison in September 1996 for armed robbery.

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