COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - A beating at the Muscogee County Jail is now a death investigation.
The 19-year-old suspect, Jayvon Hatchett, is facing charges after what authorities say was a racially motivated aggravated assault for stabbing an AutoZone employee just about two weeks ago. Now, he’s the prime suspect in the beating death of his white cellmate early Saturday morning, September 5.
“Basically, his words were, he was beat to death,” Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan said. “It happens in seconds. It only takes one good lick to the head to cause a subdural hematoma for someone to go unconscious and die from that.”
Muscogee County Sheriff Donna Tompkins said Hatchett confessed to beating Nelson to death. A warrant has been obtained for murder, and he is now officially charged with that crime in addition to his priors.
“Why was he put in a cell with a white man when he had already threatened to kill a Caucasian?” Bryan asked.
The two candidates running to be the next sheriff have questions about how something like this happened, knowing the suspect’s history.
“Well, the responsibility lies with the jail commander and on down. Whoever made the decision to put them in the jail cell is ultimately responsible for what happened,” Mark LaJoye said.
“Did jail staff, were they warned or was there miscommunication somewhere? When you have these types of issues and high profile suspects that come into the jail, all of their history needs to be known,” Marshal Greg Countryman added.
Sheriff Tompkins says Hatchett and Nelson shared a cell from August 28 to September 5 without any incidents.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has not been called in for a separate investigation. No additional charges are filed at this time.
Nelson was in jail for a violation of probation charge and for failing to register as a sex offender.
If convicted of committing crimes because of someone’s race, Hatchett could face maximum sentences for his charges under Georgia’s new hate crime law.
However, Sheriff Tompkins said information in the report from police does not indicate that there was a threat. Sheriff Tompkins said no one in agency was aware of the specific threat of to any group.
Hatchett will appear in municipal court on September 9 at 9 a.m.