$6.5 million verdict awarded in inmate's slaying
Family members of a Lawton private prison inmate who was strangled to death in his cell have been awarded a $6.5 million verdict in a wrongful-death lawsuit. Lawton Correctional Facility inmate Ronald Sites was strangled in 2005 by cellmate Robert Cooper.
LAWTON — Family members of a Lawton private prison inmate who was strangled to death in his cell have been awarded a $6.5 million verdict in a wrongful-death lawsuit.
I think it's fair to say that the jurors were appalled at the evidence we brought them of inconsistencies among the staff, some applying the rules and procedures of the facility, some not, and seemingly no disciplinary action taken to those that aren't applying rules and procedures.”
Tulsa attorney Gary Richardson
Lawton Correctional Facility inmate Ronald Sites was strangled in 2005 by cellmate Robert Cooper, said Tulsa attorney Gary Richardson, who represented Sites' son and two daughters in the wrongful death lawsuit. Cooper was later convicted of first-
Richardson said Cooper should never have been put in the cell because he had a prison history that made the killing predictable.
Nine months before being placed in a cell with Sites, Cooper had been placed in isolation by the prison staff because “he told a counselor he sat on his bunk with a sheet in his hand, fighting off the urge to kill his cellmate,” Richardson said.
Cooper's prison file showed he had stabbed another inmate and had twice been caught with shanks in his possession, the attorney said.
Richardson said his investigation revealed the staff knew that Cooper, already a convicted murderer, wanted to go back to McAlester and had concluded the only way he was going to get to do that was to kill someone.
Meanwhile, Richardson said the cellmate Cooper subsequently strangled was a former police officer who had suffered a traumatic brain injury in an oil-field accident.
Richardson said the brain injury had left Sites unable to control his constant talking, which proved to be a “real annoyance” to staff members and other inmates.
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