4 inmates face more charges


By William F. West
Staff Writer

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Four prison in­mates al­ready facing mur­der indictments in the deaths of two prison work­ers are ex­pected to face a third count of first-de­gree mur­der fol­low­ing the death of Cor­rec­tional Of­fi­cer Wendy Shan­non on Mon­day.

Mikel Brady, Wisezah Buckman, Frazier and Jonathan Monk were each indicted on two counts of first-degree murder by a Pasquotank grand jury on Monday, District Attorney Andrew Womble said Tuesday.

All four are charged in the murders of Pasquotank Correctional Institute employees Veronica Darden and Justin Smith, both of whom died during what law enforcement officials have said was the inmates’ failed escape attempt on Oct. 12. 

Records on file at the Pasquotank Register of Deeds Office indicate both Darden and Smith died of multiple blunt and sharp force injuries.

All four inmates will now face indictment on an additional count of first-degree murder following Shannon’s death at a Virginia hospital on Monday, Womble said. Womble said he plans to present evidence related to Shannon’s death to the grand jury on Dec. 4. 

Womble said the grand jury also handed down other indictments against the four inmates on Monday. Each inmate is now also facing one count of attempted murder, five counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, and one count each of attempted escape from a state prison, burning a public building, and felony riot.

Law enforcement officials have said the four inmates set a fire in the sewing plant at Pasquotank Correctional Institute, apparently to create a diversion as they tried to escape over the prison’s barbed-wire fences. Only one of the inmates made it as far as the fences, however, and he was quickly recaptured, a law enforcement official has said.   

Nearly three weeks since the failed prison break, Pasquotank Correctional Institute remains on lockdown, N.C. Public Safety spokeswoman Pamela Walker said Tuesday.

Walker didn’t immediately know whether the lockdown at PCI is the longest ever of a North Carolina prison. She said Lanesboro Correctional Institution, located southeast of Charlotte, remained on an extended lockdown after an inmate was murdered there in 2012.

N.C. Public Safety officials have taken a number of steps in response to the failed escape at PCI. Besides closing the sewing plant where both Darden and Smith worked, prison officials have ordered a review of all inmates at state prisons with Correction Enterprise facilities, suspending those with histories of assault from jobs using cutting and other tools that can be turned into weapons. The number of correctional officers who provide security at Correction Enterprise facilities has also increased.

N.C. Public Safety officials have also asked the National Institute of Corrections, which is part of the U.S. Justice Department, to conduct a safety and security review of both PCI and N.C. Correction Enterprises. 

"They have agreed to do so – and it'll be very soon," Walker said.

Attempts to reach a spokeswoman for the National Institute of Corrections were unsuccessful on Tuesday.

The National Institute of Corrections was created in the 1970s to shape and advance effective correctional practice and public policy.