An Oklahoma State Penitentiary inmate with a long history of violence has been placed in “super-maximum” custody while Oklahoma Department of Corrections investigators probe the death of his cell-mate, who also had a violent history.
Both of the inmates have previously been convicted in Pittsburg County District Court of murdering other prisoners at the maximum-security prison in McAlester. One of them, Mikell Smith, once had a special $5,000 cell built to hold him at the facility.
OSP correctional officers found Timothy Hale unresponsive in the cell at 4:20 p.m. Friday, according to Warden’s Assistant Terry Crenshaw. He said Smith gave correctional officers no problems when they entered the cell.
“The two were housed together on the H Unit,” Crenshaw said of Smith and Hale.
A member of OSP’s medical staff pronounced Hale dead, Crenshaw said.
Hale had obvious signs of injury, said Crenshaw, who would not elaborate further.
When DOC investigators complete their probe into the death, the report is expected to be turned over to District 18 District Attorney Farley Ward’s office, according to Crenshaw.
Smith, who is also known behind the walls as “Bulldog” Smith, has a number of previous convictions, including two murder convictions for which he is serving sentences of life without parole.
He was also previously convicted of stabbing an OSP correctional officer in the heart in 1989. The officer survived. Smith was sentenced to an additional 500 years in prison on that conviction in 1992.
Under an interstate compact agreement in which states can exchange trouble-making offenders to get them out of their element, the DOC sent Smith to Washington state in 1996.
Two years later, Washington sent Smith back to OSP.
Smith had originally been sentenced to death in the 1985 shotgun murder of Rick Patterson, a math teacher in Moore, who had been kidnapped from a grocery store in Oklahoma City and murdered for his car.
However, in 1992, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals overturned that conviction and ordered a new trial, determining that jurors should not have been allowed to hear a recording of another defendant’s police interview.
While back in the Oklahoma County Jail awaiting re-trial, Smith escaped after sawing through a metal screen window with a hacksaw blade, and shimmying to the ground using sheets he had tied together.
Following a foot and car chase, law enforcement officers apprehended Smith after about 15 minutes of freedom.
In a plea agreement, Smith escaped facing the death penalty again when he pleaded guilty in the Moore slaying and was sentenced to life without parole.
In 1993, Smith was charged in the stabbing death of OSP inmate George Stidham. He and another inmate were accused of stabbing Stidham to death after the other inmate used a homemade knife to force a correctional officer to release Smith. The two took keys that opened to a shower area where Stidham was, with the result that they both attacked and stabbed Stidham.
Smith was sentenced to a second term of life without parole in that case following a trial and first-degree murder conviction in Pittsburg County District Court.
Hale was also serving a sentence of life without parole, for a 1996 Pittsburg County murder conviction, according to DOC records.
Hale was convicted of killing his cell-mate Clifford Parsons at OSP in 1995 following an argument about the top bunk on a bunk bed, that was wet from a leaking roof.
During the trial, Hale claimed to have killed Parsons in self-defense after Parsons attacked him with a knife.
Prosecutors said Hale had earlier said he had tortured Parsons for several hours, then slashed his throat and stuck a mop handle in his eye.
Hale had responded that he had lied in his previous statements, because he had been under the misapprehension OSP’s death row would be a better place to live than the segregation unit at the prison.
Hale’s record contains approximately 19 felony charges, including convictions for kidnapping, escape, burglary and armed robbery.
Contact James Beaty at email@example.com.
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