NEW BOSTON, Texas – A corrections officer escorting an inmate to his cell was beaten to death Wednesday at a far northeast Texas prison, Department of Criminal Justice officials said.
The officer was escorting the inmate from a dayroom at the Telford Unit when he was attacked with an object, prison agency spokesman Jason Clark said. Officials did not immediately identify the weapon.
"It's still under investigation," Clark said.
The officer, Timothy Davison, 47, was taken to a hospital in Texarkana, about 20 miles east of the prison, where he died, Clark said. Davison, who lived near the prison, had been with the agency since December.
"Our hearts are deeply saddened by this tragic loss of life," Brad Livingston, executive director of the prison system, said. "This dedicated correctional officer came to work each day determined to make Texas a safe place to live."
The inmate involved was identified as Billy Joel Tracy, 37.
Prison records show he has at least seven convictions dating back to 1995 and is serving a life sentence for robbery and aggravated assault from Rockwall County, a suburban county east of Dallas. He has other convictions from Tarrant and Potter counties, including possession of a deadly weapon while in prison. At least three convictions are for assaults on corrections officers.
"We will see that the offender who is responsible for this murder will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Oliver Bell, chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, said.
Clark said the Telford Unit was properly staffed and had not been the scene of recent serious security problems.
"Of course, any time there's a serious incident like this, there will be a review," he said. "That's standard procedure."
Investigators from the agency's Office of Inspector General were at the prison and "processing the crime scene," Clark said.
It's the first slaying of a Texas corrections officer since 2007, when 59-year-old Susan Canfield suffered fatal head injuries during the chaos and gunfire as two inmates broke away from a work detail outside a Huntsville-area prison. Both inmates were recaptured. One of them convicted of her death has since been executed.
The Telford Unit in Bowie County can hold nearly 2,900 inmates.