- The Washington Times - Friday, June 24, 2005

BALTIMORE — An inmate found badly beaten in his cell at the City Detention Center has died of his injuries.

Johns Hopkins Hospital officials said Lennard Benjamin died Thursday evening, two days after correctional officers found him face down in his cell at the state-run facility that has been plagued by violence and overcrowding.

Benjamin’s death occurred a day after the state replaced the warden of the Central Booking Center and as an investigation continues into the death of another inmate there who was beaten by correctional officers.

Howard Ray, a deputy commissioner in the Maryland Division of Pretrial and Detention Services since September 2003, will take over for Susan Murphy, who is retiring, Commissioner William Smith said.

Mr. Ray will serve as acting warden until a permanent replacement for Miss Murphy is selected, Mr. Smith said. Miss Murphy has been warden for about 14 months after serving as assistant warden for about three years.

Meanwhile, Mr. Smith said an investigation was under way in the latest act of violence at the detention center.

Mr. Smith said he thinks Benjamin was beaten by his cellmate, who was locked in with Benjamin.

“He was hit by something, and the cell has been treated as a crime scene,” Mr. Smith said.

In another case, officials are reviewing the beating death of Raymond Smoot, 51, an inmate who died after getting into an altercation with correctional officers last month. Eight correctional officers have been fired as a result of Smoot’s death, which was ruled a homicide.

Maryland State Police and an internal investigative unit from the department have turned over preliminary findings to the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office. No charges have been filed.

The FBI has opened a separate civil rights investigation into Smoot’s death.

Central Booking is where arrested adults in Baltimore are identified, fingerprinted and photographed before they have a hearing before a court commissioner.

The facility, which opened in 1995, was designed to process up to 45,000 people annually but handled 100,000 last year.

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