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Two suspects identified in homicide of inmate at Oklahoma County jail

6-5-2017 Oklahoma:

An inmate at the Oklahoma County jail who died in early February was the victim of a homicide, the first at the troubled facility in almost three years, an autopsy report shows.

Two suspects already have been identified and are in custody, authorities said.

The victim, Ricky Earl Windle, died because of complications from multiple blunt force trauma, the pathologist who did the autopsy concluded. He was 53.

The autopsy report — released in May by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner — lists the manner of death as homicide. Windle had been assaulted at the jail Jan. 10, the autopsy report also shows. His injuries included three broken ribs.

Windle died Feb. 5 at a hospital, a day after being found unconscious alone in his cell. His death earlier had been described by the sheriff's office as apparently from natural causes.

The circumstances that led to the death were unusual, according to Acting Sheriff P.D. Taylor and a sheriff's investigator.

Windle was not treated at a hospital for the assault until Jan. 12, after authorities learned of it from his family who had been called by a cellmate, they said. Windle had not reported being attacked.

Windle developed a bad infection from his injuries after being returned to jail, they said. The infection went undetected because he twice refused to go to the hospital again for a follow-up scan, they said.

"He ended up dying," Taylor said

Windle had served time in prison for a 2003 attempted rape and indecent exposure. He was jailed in September after telling police he had been living in a Del City park since April 2014 and sleeping underneath a bridge.

He was awaiting trial on two felony counts. Prosecutors accused him of violating a state law that restricts where a sex offender can live and requires an offender to register with police.

He was beaten in January because the other inmates found out he was a sex offender, the acting sheriff and the investigator said.

"He wasn't hiding the fact," Taylor said. "Two of the inmates lured him into a cell and they beat him up pretty bad."

The acting sheriff said the beating is an example of a common problem for jails and prisons, a resentment toward sex offenders. "Things happen in a jail," Taylor said. "The facts show that inmates sometimes will take it out on people that's in here on certain crimes. It certainly doesn't make it right."

Another homicide at the jail is a setback for officials who have worked to make improvements.

In a report made public in 2008, the U.S. Justice Department criticized the jail for "an inordinately high risk of detainee-on-detainee violence" because of crowding and poor supervision.

The federal government removed all federal detainees from the Oklahoma County jail in 2008 because of that report. The federal government still does not use the Oklahoma County, sending most defendants awaiting trial on federal charges to the jail in Grady County instead.

"There's always more we can do. We don't want any deaths in here and especially a homicide," the acting sheriff said.

Twenty Oklahoma County jail inmates have died in custody since Jan. 1, 2016.

Taylor pointed out that close to 50,000 people are booked in and out of the jail in a year.

"You take a town with 50,000 people — and again this is no excuse — but you're going to have a homicide occasionally, you're going to have suicides," he said. "It doesn't make it right. It doesn't make it that we can't do a better job. But you're going to have deaths in the population that we have coming through this county jail."

Agents with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation have been looking into the death. They are expected to deliver their reports to District Attorney David Prater this week. The district attorney then will review the information and determine whether anyone should be prosecuted.

The two suspects were identified from jail surveillance video as Jimmy Tahchawwickah, 35, and Thomas A. LeShore, 36, authorities said.

Tahchawwickah is a convicted robber now in jail on a weapons charge. LeShore is a drug offender who was moved to prison in March to begin a five-year sentence.

The finding that Windle's death was a homicide actually has brought some closure to his family.

His two sons saw their father at the hospital just before his death. Both thought he had been beaten.

"The county and the hospital were trying to say he died of heart failure," said one son, Corey Windle, of _ Park. "Me and my brother, we wasn't going for it. ... like, nah, hell, no. ... I've been in jail before. I know what goes on in there. ... I'm not stupid.

"I feel like my dad got a little bit of closure now," he said. "And like I got a little bit of closure, and I know me and my brother really wasn't crazy. We were right about what happened." ..Source.. by Nolan Clay

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