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Civil rights attorney Ben Crump shares new 'smoking gun' evidence in Avoyelles Parish jail death

3 months 15 hours 27 minutes ago Saturday, March 23 2024 Mar 23, 2024 March 23, 2024 6:10 PM March 23, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE — While visiting Baton Rouge, civil rights lawyer Ben Crump shared new evidence that claims the death of Avoyelles Parish inmate Jerome Stevenson may have been condoned and sanctioned by prison officials.

The evidence Crump presented at Friday morning's press conference suggested that Stevenson's death was not only premeditated but was part of a conspiracy that involved high-ranking officials — including Bruce Cazelot, the warden of the Avoyelles Parish Detention Center.

"He lost his life while in protective custody. That should never be accepted in these United States of America," said Monica Fabre, the spokesperson for Stevenson's family and president of the NAACP's Pointe Coupee Parish chapter. "He was led to his slaughter like a sheep by wolves in sheep's clothing."

Stevenson, 26, reportedly died after an altercation with two corrections deputies and an inmate on Nov. 4, 2023. Stevenson's autopsy report after he died two days later stated his cause of death as “blunt force injuries of head and abdomen and asphyxiation.” The coroner classified the death as a homicide.

In February, the deputies, Frank Overbey and Byron White, were booked as a principal to second-degree murder and for malfeasance in office, respectively. The inmate, John Contrell Williams, was arrested for second-degree murder.

Crump presented two text message exchanges that are reportedly "tantamount to smoking gun evidence" that shed more light onto Stevenson's death.

One of the messages suggests that the warden was angry that Stevenson reportedly hit a guard in a dormitory.

"I was there 20 minutes after it happened and I went in D dorm by myself and got the inmates out that hit him and you know what happens next LOL," a second text message exchange read.

Crump then presents the autopsy report, drawing a connection between the messages and the attack on Stevenson.

"In layman's terms, what happened next, is they ordered him to be beat to death by the very people that were supposed to protect and serve him," Crump said.

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