Two white supremacists who murdered a fellow inmate in a Texas federal prison were immediately sentenced to death following a jury verdict this week in Houston.
Inmates Ricky Allen Fackrell and Christopher Emory Cramer, the jury concluded, conspired to murder fellow inmate Leo Johns and stabbed him to death on June 9, 2014, in the U.S. Penitentiary in Beaumont, Texas.
All three were members of Soldiers of the Aryan Culture, identified by the U.S. Department of Justice as a white supremacy prison gang.
The jury deliberated eight hours before returning its unanimous verdict on Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone immediately imposed death sentences.
“White supremacists subscribe to a repugnant, hateful ideology and use it to justify criminal activity,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement released after the verdict. “The murder committed in this case was an act of senseless, barbaric violence. Now that the jury has spoken, justice will be done.”
The murder was investigated by the FBI because it occurred in a federal detention facility. Federal prosecutors filed documents seeking the death penalty in a superseding indictment that cited aggravating factors, including premeditation.
Court documents disclose that the investigation included FBI interviews of eight fellow inmates and gang members. Investigators also examined and introduced as evidence prison surveillance video tracking movements of inmates suspected of involvement in the killing.
Other evidence introduced by prosecutors included a “kite” — a handwritten note — found in a cell of a third inmate who acted as a “lookout” during the killing.
The documents say the murder was carried out because the conspirators believed Johns had stolen items from other gang members and taken funds from the group’s “kitty.” The attackers also believed the victim had “run up unacceptable drug debts with other prison gangs and was often intoxicated,” the documents say.
The murder was carried out at 11 a.m. in a cell block after the inmates in the federal prison were released from their cells for the day. The attackers used two metal “shanks,” stabbing the victim in the chest and the back, piercing his lungs, the documents say.
“Johns had been stabbed 74 times [and] was unresponsive and cold to the touch” when federal Bureau of Prisons’ responders reached another inmate’s cell where the victim was fatally stabbed.
By the time the victim’s lifeless body was removed from the blood-splattered cell, the court documents say other inmates already had helped themselves and removed his personal belongings from a nearby unit.