Crime

Inmate found dead after assault in Atwater prison

A 37-year-old U.S. Penitentiary Atwater inmate is dead after being assaulted by another inmate at the prison about 8:30 p.m. Sunday, prison officials reported.
A 37-year-old U.S. Penitentiary Atwater inmate is dead after being assaulted by another inmate at the prison about 8:30 p.m. Sunday, prison officials reported. (The Modesto Bee)

ATWATER — A 37-year-old U.S. Penitentiary Atwater inmate is dead after being assaulted by another inmate at the prison about 8:30 p.m. Sunday, prison officials reported.

The inmate has been identified as Wade Edward Austin. He was serving a sentence of 15 years for intent to distribute cocaine base and knowingly using a firearm during a drug trafficking crime in Virginia, according to a prison statement.

FBI officials are investigating the death.

Prison spokesman Miguel Chavez said he couldn't comment about how Austin was killed, if anyone has been arrested or a motive for the attack, citing the FBI's investigation.

Prison officials said inmates have been temporarily confined to their cells.

A statement on the Web site of the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1242, the prison's correctional officers' union, read: "A black inmate was killed by another black inmate in unit 5 at approximately 8:30 p.m. Prison is on lockdown."

Austin is the second inmate homicide reported at the prison since 2006. Domosanies Duvall Slaughter, 28, was killed Aug. 2, 2006. His cellmate, Juwan Tonay Ferguson, 38, was sentenced to life in prison for beating him to death. The sentence was later reduced to eight years after a federal appeals court reviewed the case.

In addition, correctional officer Jose Rivera was killed by two inmates at the prison in 2009. The cases of the accused inmates are pending in federal court.

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