Inmate killed at North Florida prison

By Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor, Associated Press, Jason Mealey - Producer/assignment editor

Florida Department of Corrections photo of Larry Mark

LAKE CITY, Fla. - The Florida Department of Corrections said an inmate killed his cellmate Thursday morning at the Columbia Correctional Institution Annex.

News outlets report that a prisoner strangled and mutilated his cellmate.

State officials identified the victim as 58-year-old Larry Mark, who was serving a life sentence for a 1981 murder.

Officials didn’t immediately name the suspected killer.

A report in the Miami Herald cites prison sources who say that Mark was strangled and had his eyes gouged out and that his cellmate wore his ear as a necklace to the prison's chow hall. The Florida Department of Corrections has not confirmed that claim. 

The Department of Corrections did send News4Jax a statement about the murder.

"Any loss of life at the hands of an inmate is intolerable, and we are working with our partners at FDLE to investigate this death and ensure anyone responsible is held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Florida corrections officers have an extremely difficult job, and we ask and expect a lot of them despite the staffing challenges that exist at our institutions. The nature of this work is inherently dangerous, but I know that our more than 17,000 dedicated officers are committed to our public safety mission and do an outstanding job, day and night, to supervise the 96,000 inmates in our custody," said Julie Jones, Florida Department of Corrections Secretary

 

It's not known if the violence that broke out later Thursday at Columbia Correctional was connected with this killing. Four inmates were hospitalized after 10 prisoners were involved in an altercation at the prison, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.

FDOC did not say at what time the incident occurred, but it did say there were no injuries to responding staff.

This isn't the first death to occur at Columbia Correctional. In March 2012, Corrections Officer Ruben Thomas was stabbed 14 times in a cell. Richard Franklin was convicted of first-degree murder in that case. A jury handed down a death sentence for Franklin, who was already on death row for a 1995 murder of a Bethune-Cookman student.

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