Two inmates of the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, who were convicted by a federal jury for murdering another inmate at the facility were sentenced to death late yesterday.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and United States Attorney Tammy Dickinson of the Western District of Missouri made the announcement.
“Two federal inmates senselessly killed another inmate, and today, they have been brought to justice,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “The Justice Department is committed to ensuring the safety and security of all Bureau of Prisons employees and inmates.”
“Achieving justice sometimes requires us to ask our citizens to make the most difficult sentencing decisions,” said U.S. Attorney Dickinson. “We appreciate their patience and commitment throughout trial. The defendants’ conduct strikes at the heart of our justice system, which depends upon the safety and security of our penal institutions. Mr. Castro was targeted for murder, in part, because he intervened to help a Bureau of Prisons employee as he was being attacked by another inmate.”
Wesley Paul Coonce Jr., 34, and Charles Michael Hall, 43, who are both inmates at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners, were found guilty on May 7, 2014, of one count of murder in the first degree. Coonce was also found guilty of one count of murder by an inmate serving a life sentence. The trial began on April 28, 2014, before U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner of the Western District of Missouri.
The evidence presented at trial demonstrated that another inmate at the prison medical center, Victor Castro-Rodriguez, 51, was found dead on the floor of his cell on Jan. 26, 2010, and had been murdered by Coonce and Hall. At the time of the murder, Coonce was serving a life sentence for a kidnapping and carjacking that involved the brutal rape of a young woman, and Hall was serving a combined 194-month sentence from the District of Maine for making threatening communications against a federal judge and a federal prosecutor.
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Bureau of Prisons and it was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eggert and Trial Attorney James D. Peterson of the Capital Case Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division.