- Associated Press - Sunday, March 6, 2016

TEXARKANA, Texas (AP) - A Texas prison inmate accused of beating a guard to death last year didn’t have his handcuffs properly locked before the brutal attack and told investigators afterward that he had no problems with the correction officer, according to a newly released state report.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Billy Joel Tracy, who is charged with capital murder in the July death of corrections officer Timothy Davison. The 38-year-old Tracy was serving a life sentence at the time for robbery and aggravated assault at the Telford Unit prison in East Texas.

At least three guards on duty with Davison were found to have broken protocol before the first-year officer was beaten with a metal bar and hurled down a flight of stairs, according to a 12-page report from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which was obtained by the Texarkana Gazette (https://bit.ly/1QY5Uc4). One guard was cited for not helping Davison and resigned in lieu of discipline.

The report does not assign specific blame for Davison’s death and says staffing levels at the prison were not a factor.

Davison was escorting Tracy to his cell when the inmate’s hand slipped from the restraints, according to the report. Tracy is accused of punching Davison before wresting control of a metal tray slot bar from the guard and striking him on the head and upper body.

When other guards responded, Tracy allegedly threw the bar at them before returning to his cell and shutting the door.

“They didn’t know how dangerous I am,” Tracy allegedly told investigators after the attack.

Tracy allegedly stated that Davison was fair to inmates and was a good officer and that he had no issues with the 47-year-old officer before the attack. Investigators also noted Tracy had been “non-disruptive” and respectful to staff in the year before the attack.

“However, he continued to justify his actions by indicating that the staff were complacent and ‘I had my reason,’” according to the report.

A trial date for Tracy has not been set.

Davison’s death was the first slaying of a Texas corrections officer since 2007, when 59-year-old Susan Canfield suffered fatal head injuries during the chaos and gunfire as two inmates broke away from a work detail outside a Huntsville-area prison.

The Telford Unit in Bowie County can hold nearly 2,900 inmates.

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Information from: Texarkana Gazette, https://www.texarkanagazette.com

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