Seven people were charged Monday for their alleged involvement in a 2015 fight at a private prison that led to the deaths of four prisoners there.
Steven Ray Thompson, 32, Johnathan Richard Whittington, 27, Phillip Wayne Jordan, 34, Jordan James Scott, 25, James Augustine Placker, 31, Gage Broom, 25, and Korey L. Kruta, 28, were each charged by the Payne County District Attorney’s Office with participating in a riot, a felony that carries the same punishment as second-degree murder.
If found guilty, the prisoners could face up to life in prison, according to court documents.
The September 12, 2015, fight at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing is considered one of the deadliest prison clashes in Oklahoma history.
The fight, which lasted only a few minutes, involved numerous members of the Irish Mob and the United Aryan Brotherhood gangs housed at the prison’s Charlie North unit. Court records state the gang members wielded homemade weapons during the brawl.
Four people — Anthony Fulwider, 31, Kyle Tiffee, 23, Christopher Tignor, 29, and Michael Edwin Mayden Jr., 26 — were killed during the melee.
A single correctional officer was stationed on the unit prior to the fight, and he allegedly radioed to his senior officers that it appeared a fight was about to occur, according to documents in a civil suit filed by a relative of one of the deceased prisoners. The suit claims that there was no response by other guards until after the fight.
Though the Oklahoma Department of Corrections has completed an investigative report on the fight, it has not been released to the public. The report was not included in Monday’s filings by Payne County District Attorney Laura Austin Thomas.
Thomas could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
By the time deadly riot rocked private prison, company that ran it had reaped millions in state tax dollars
Court filings in one of the civil cases filed by family members also indicate that surveillance cameras may have captured the fight on video.
Thompson is already serving a sentence of life without parole for the 2013 murder of Sara Maisano and the assault and battery of another woman in Grady County. Thompson pleaded guilty in 2014 to two crimes; fatally shooting Maisano, 23, who was the daughter of Norman Police Department Deputy Chief Jim Maisano, and beating his then-fiancee Katie Garner with the butt of a gun. Thompson is currently being housed at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, according to DOC.
Whittington, who is still at the Cimarron Correctional Facility, is serving a 20-year sentence for convictions in 2014 of attempted robbery with an imitation weapon, first-degree burglary and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He had a previous convictions for first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary, common-law robbery and larceny of a firearm convictions out of North Carolina, according to court records.
Whittington was convicted in Oklahoma in 2014 after allegedly breaking into an apartment in Yukon and threatening a man there with a fake firearm while trying to steal from him, court records state.
Jordan, who is currently housed at the Lawton Correctional Facility, has numerous convictions for burglary, auto theft and other crimes. His most recent convictions were in 2014 for second-degree burglary, obstructing an officer, attempted grand larceny and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, for which he is serving a 15-year prison sentence.
Scott, who was incarcerated at the time of the fight for convictions of second-degree burglary, possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of a firearm while under supervision, is currently on DOC supervision, according to prison records.
Placker, who has several convictions for property and drug crimes, is currently being held at the Cimarron Correctional Facility, serving a five-year sentence for carrying drugs into jail.
Broom is also being held at Cimarron, serving a 20-year sentence for a 2009 conviction of first-degree manslaughter in the beating death of Justin Childress.
Kruta is currently incarcerated at the Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville. He is serving a six-year sentence for drug possession after a prior felony conviction, but had previous convictions of first-degree burglary, kidnapping and robbery.