Investigation: Prison homicide cover-up

By Lucas Seiler

Grieving and demanding answers in Clewiston, the family of the Charlotte Correctional Institution inmate killed is speaking out tonight. Sources tell us correctional officers beat Matthew Walker to death April 11, 2014 in his cell.

The family tells us Department of Corrections investigators questioned them two days before our story aired Friday confirming Walker died inside this prison.

Walker’s sister claims the state didn’t even tell her Walker was dead and, not long ago, her brother told her if anything happened to him inside Charlotte Correctional Institution, she should look into it.

“No! They beat my brother to death…oh my God! Ah!” cried Mae Atkins, Walker’s sister.

Exhausted by days of endless mixed emotions, the family is upset and saddened, and then confused and frustrated after being left to wonder what happened to him inside this prison April 11.

“Nobody is giving me no answers and I need answers. I need to know what happened. I need to know the details of what happened and I need whoever did it…need to tell it!” Atkins said. “It has the whole family just…just hurting.”

She says investigators never told her Walker died inside Charlotte Correctional Institution, but the type of questions they asked made her think something happened - like whether walker ever complained of certain correctional officers.

“That led me to believe that the guards had something to do with what happened to him.”

Jacoby Walker, Deceased inmate’s nephew “We’re all hurt… we’re destroyed man… never in a million years would we think something like this,” said Jacoby Walker, the deceased man’s nephew.

Atkins says her brother was going to be released in just two years.

The Department of Corrections won’t confirm that or a number of other questions we have -- like the circumstances are surrounding his death. Although, sources tell us a group of correctional officers handcuffed him in his cell and beat him to death after he wouldn’t put an item away for the night.

Atkins tells us her brother was worried about something happening to him.

“On a visit, he told me that they didn’t like him because he didn’t laugh and play with them when they would make jokes,” she said.

Now, Walker’s family is planning a funeral without even knowing exactly how he died.

Sources tell us nine correctional officers and one lieutenant are all on leave after this incident. Our repeated requests for comment concerning this case have not been answered today.

Inside Charlotte County Institution

Former guards at the Charlotte Correctional Institution predicting more unrest inside the prison after an inmate is killed. State investigators are working now to try and determine the circumstances surrounding inmate Matthew Walker's death two weeks ago.

We’re being told today that late Thursday another inmate was stabbed 13 times inside the Charlotte Correctional Institute. While the Department of Corrections won't confirm those reports, former guards say the violence and bloodshed is far from over.

“Something will happen. There's not a doubt in my mind. Something will happen. Not by management but by inmates,” said a former guard.

Less than an hour after that prediction by a former guard, our cameras captured an ambulance rushing into the prison. 

"A lot of them are frustrated. A lot of them afraid to come forward,” a guard said.

This former guard worked at the prison for more than two decades and talks regularly with many of the guards who still work here. 

“There is somewhat a staffing problem, but it comes down to management,” he said.

He says the latest wave of violence came after reports inmates may have had access to a gun inside the prison. 

“They were taking footballs and cutting footballs and putting contraband inside the footballs and throwing them over the fence,” he said.

He says a search for the gun began with guards agitating inmates. 

“My sources informed me that they were doing cell compliant checks at 1 a.m. in the morning,” he said.

Sources say that's when Matthew Walker became unruly, and when corrections became involved Walker ended up dead. 

“That particular inmate refused or said, ‘I’ll do it later,’ which escalated the incident,” he said.

Other guards claim the prison is dangerous.

"It's really unsafe at this point,” said former guard Ken Smith.

“Almost nothing operated the way we were taught it should operate,” said former guard Joe Facenda.

And while the state investigates what's going on at the facility, former guards fear only more violence in the days ahead. 

“In the prison system it's easier to do the wrong thing than doing the right thing. Why is that? Because they can get away with it," said a former guard.

Sources inside the prison say state officials will be here this week going over security and other measures. We’ve placed numerous calls to the Department of Corrections and our calls are not being returned.