Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Michigan Warden Barred from Prison After Most Recent Prisoner Homicide

by Jo Ellen Nott

On October 18, 2022, the Michigan Department of Corrections (DOC) placed Warden George Stephenson of the Macomb Correctional Facility (MCF) in Lenox Township on “stop order” – meaning he is barred from the premises – pending an internal investigation.

Former MCF Warden Willis Chapman, who is now Assistant Deputy Director of Operations for DOC, assumed Stephenson’s duties.

The change-up came immediately after an MCF prisoner attacked his cellmate and a third prisoner, injuring the latter seriously and leaving his cellmate dead. The same day that Stephenson was walked off the job, a prisoner in the residential treatment program stabbed another prisoner several times in the back, arm, and face. The victim of that attack was treated at a hospital and released.  Later that day when officials searched the attacker’s cell, they found his cellmate suffering from “severe injuries” that proved fatal. 

The attacker and the surviving victim were not named, but the mortally wounded prisoner was identified as Ruben Martinez, 28. He died the following day despite efforts by prison staff to save him. He had been serving time for a 2011 armed robbery in Saginaw County, as well as offenses committed in prison in January 2022, records show.

State Police are investigating Martinez’ death, which was the third homicide in 2022 at MCF. On May 30, 2022, Martell Smith, 26, was found murdered. His family says he and another prisoner were fighting when Smith was stabbed in the neck with a shank. The other victim was Christopher Neely, 33, who was also fatally stabbed by another prisoner on September 18, 2022. 

Earlier, MCF’s residential treatment facility recorded another prisoner death in December 2021, when Ventron Lott, 35, died from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. A prisoner who was in a nearby cell reported that a guard supplied the drugs which caused Lott’s death. 

Stephenson was not suspended in relation to the two homicides from earlier this year, nor is he being investigated by the police, according to DOC Spokesman Chris Gautz. The most recent homicide is the only one related to Stephenson’s stop order, Gautz said, stressing that Stephenson has not been fired but is on paid leave.

“Due to it being a personnel issue and an ongoing internal investigation I cannot get into what potential work rules there are or what it is related to,” Gautz said. 

Sources: CBS News, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News 

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login