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$85,000 Settlement in South Carolina Prison Murder Suit

The South Carolina Department of Corrections agreed to pay $85,000 to settle a wrongful death case and survival action in the murder of a prisoner by his cellmate.

Perry Correctional Institution prisoner Charles D. Martin was serving a five-year non-violent sentence. He was assigned on September 12, 2005 to a cell with prisoner Jeffery Motts, who is serving a life sentence for murder.

Motts did not like Martin, and he did not want to share a cell with him. Both requested guards to separate them. Martin told guards he was fearful Motts would attack him. Lt. Tamara Conwell was told by Motts that he would kill Martin if he was not moved.

The threat was followed through on December 8, 2005. Motts confessed that he choked Martin until he was unconscious. He then tied Martin’s hands and feet; he spent the night beating Martin until he died. Motts then placed Martin’s dead body in a chair, where it remained until breakfast. When Motts told other prisoners he had killed Martin, it was reported to guards.

The federal district court overseeing the case approved the parties’ compromise settlement on April 13, 2010. That settlement pays Martin’s estate $84,400 for the wrongful death claim and $600 for the conscious suffering Martin sustained.

The estate was represented by Anderson-based attorney J. David Standeffer. See: Martin v. South Carolina Department of Corrections, USDC, D. South Carolina, Case No.: 6:07-CV-03422.

Related legal case

Martin v. South Carolina Department of Corrections