Friday, July 18, 2008

Inmate Arraigned In Officer's Slaying

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The inmate accused of killing a Tomoka State Prison corrections officer was arraigned on charges of first-degree murder on Thursday.

Enoch Hall pleaded not guilty in the murder of corrections officer Donna Fitzgerald.

State Attorney John Tanner said he wants to push for the death penalty if Hall is convicted of murder.

"The state of Florida, I think in its wisdom in having a death penalty, makes our prisons safer for both the guards and the inmates," Tanner said.

Fitzgerald was standing guard near an entrance to where inmates repair vehicles. All of the inmates had left except Hall, officials said. Fitzgerald went to search for him alone, unarmed and without her radio.

Fitzgerald confronted Hall, who proceeded to stab her repeatedly with a knife Hall welded out of sheet metal, according to police.

Documents reported Hall told police he snapped and killed her. Hall said he had taken four white pills given to him by another inmate and remained behind to steal more when Fitzgerald found him.

Fitzgerald was found face down, bent over a utility cart with her clothes pulled down to her ankles. Official documents reported she was not raped.

Hall is already serving life in prison, and the state attorney said there could be enough evidence to sentence Hall to the death penalty.

"We hope that the results of this trial will act as a deterrent to other prisoners or inmates who might consider killing or harming a corrections officer or a fellow guard," Tanner said.

The state attorney said he wants to try the case in six months, during which Hall will be kept in secure detention at Volusia County Jail.

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