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State

3rd inmate dies suspiciously at Illinois prison

SPRINGFIELD (AP) — The third inmate to die recently under suspicious circumstances at Menard Correctional Center in southern Illinois was found in his cell Tuesday night, authorities said Wednesday.

Randolph County Coroner Randy Dudenbostel said the 35-year-old man, who was housed in the prison's segregation unit, was declared dead at 10:36 p.m.

Neither Dudenbostel nor Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Stacey Solano would release the man's name. Dudenbostel said an autopsy has been scheduled for Thursday.

The prison in Chester, about 60 miles southeast of St. Louis, was locked down while an investigation got under way, Solano said.

The death was the third deemed "suspicious" since Jan. 31, when 25-year-old Jason Hall was found in his cell in the segregation unit.

Randolph County State's Attorney Jeremy Walker said Hall's former cellmate, James Amison, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder. One count alleges Amison beat Hall's head and face with his fists in what Walker called an unprovoked attack. The other count contends Amison strangled Hall.

Amison has since been transferred to Pontiac Correctional Center. He is already serving five life sentences, including three for murder, and is due in Randolph County court April 8.

Walker said it appears there also will be criminal charges filed in the Feb. 25 death of 64-year-old convicted murderer Yusuf Abuzir. Abuzir had been in an altercation with another inmate at Menard a few weeks earlier.

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Online: http://www2.illinois.gov/idoc

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Contact John O'Connor at https://www.twitter.com/apoconnor

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