- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - State prison officials say they did not know about an inmate’s pleas for help until after he was killed in an apparent assisted suicide.

The comments come after a judge criticized the Corrections Department during a sentencing hearing Monday for placing two suicidal inmates in the same cell.

Judge Susan Sabers sentenced Douglas Ipsen, 29, to 20 additional years in prison for killing cellmate Kent Davidson at the State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls last September.

Davidson had been serving a life sentence for murdering his former fiancée in 2013. Ipsen was serving a 75-year sentence for sex crimes in Butte County. Authorities say Ipsen strangled Davidson with a homemade rope.

Court records indicate Ipsen gave prison staff a letter from Davidson the day of his death saying he was suicidal, that his requests for help had been fruitless and that he was “taking it into my own hands,” the Argus Leader reported (https://argusne.ws/1Joo4nT ). Davidson also wrote another letter intended for his family that explained what to do with his possessions.

State Corrections Secretary Denny Kaemingk said the letters were found after Davidson’s death. He also said neither inmate had been classified as a suicide risk, which would have placed them in a more secure, camera-monitored area with special bedding and clothing.

Ipsen could have done more to prevent Davidson’s death, Kaemingk said.

“He had the opportunity to tell staff each and every day, all day long,” Kaemingk said. “He made the choice of killing Davidson. He had the opportunity to get him the help he needed so badly.”

Ipsen said during sentencing that he was “very hesitant” to kill Davidson, but that he also had been suicidal from a young age and he eventually relented and agreed to help Davidson die.

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com


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