2 inmates charged with killing 4 at SC prison

Posted April 09, 2017

"I have asked the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to lead this investigation", state prisons chief Bryan Stirling said in a statement.

Corrections officials say the four men were found dead in a down at Kirkland Correctional Institution, a maximum security federal prison in Columbia.

The South Carolina Department of Corrections says the four are 52-year-old John King, 35-year-old Jason Kelley, 56-year-old Jimmy Ham, and 44-year-old William Scruggs.

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Denver Simmons, 35, and Jacob Phillip, 25, both already serving life sentences for murder, were charged with four counts of murder on Saturday following the deaths of four inmates at Kirkland Correctional Institution in Columbia.

The warrants say the men worked together to choke all four inmates.

According to a warrant released by the law enforcement division, Simmons and Philip confessed to killing the four inmates.

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Simmons and Philip are now serving life sentences for unrelated double murders. Philip has no disciplinary actions against him in almost two years in state prison.

King's projected release date was October 2020. Kelley was serving 15 years for assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. He was scheduled for release in August 2020.

Scruggs was sentenced to life in prison for murder and burglary, plus 30 years for kidnapping, and five years for having a weapon during a violent crime, according to the Solicitor's Office. The facility receives, assesses and classifies every male inmate in the state who is sentenced to more than 91 days in prison. According to the paper, correctional officers have also been accused of assaulting inmates at the prison.

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Because of the ongoing investigation, Stirling would not talk about whether prison policies were broken or how the inmates came to be together.