STAR CITY, Ark. (AP) - An Arkansas state prison inmate has been sentenced to 20 additional years for manslaughter in the killing of a fellow prisoner during an outbreak of violence in 2017.
James Walker , 34, died in September 2017 from a single punch, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported .
A Lincoln County jury determined Tuesday that Damont Ewells, 47, was reckless when he hit Walker, causing him to fall and crack his head on a concrete floor of a bathroom at the Cummins Unit in Grady.
Ewells took the stand and tearfully described Walker as one of his few friends in prison. Ewells said he was picked on by other inmates for his size and a limp right arm that was partially paralyzed due to a gunshot wound.
Ewells told the court he doesn’t really remember what happened because he blacked out but that he does recall confronting Walker.
“I don’t think he did nothing, but I’m sure he said something,” Ewells said of their confrontation.
Two inmates who witnessed the punch testified that Walker appeared to be knocked unconscious, which caused him to fall.
Ewells’ attorney, Keith Hall, argued that Ewells should be granted leniency since the fall was an accident.
“There is no evidence that he pummeled him while he was down,” Hall said.
Walker’s mother and father, Jacqueline and Huey Kinsey, spoke Tuesday of their son’s “kindness.”
The violence wasn’t necessary, Huey Kinsey said.
“I don’t think that’s the kind of friend that any person wants, especially in prison,” Kinsey said.
Ewells was imprisoned in 2007 for drug offenses. He had been eligible for parole in 2036 before Circuit Judge Jodi Dennis imposed the maximum 20-year sentence for manslaughter.
Walker’s death came at time of violence in the state’s correctional facilities. Inmates and guards were hurt in the late summer unrest, and three officers were taken hostage at the Maximum Security Unit in Tucker.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com
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