Judge hears Angola death row inmate heat lawsuit, murder victim's family reacts
August 7, 2013 at 2:32 AM CDT - Updated July 25 at 4:26 PM
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA)
Family members of murder victims are reacting after their loved one's killer and two other death row inmates filed a lawsuit saying it's too hot in their cells. "They need to go ahead and shove the needle in his butt, send him down to hell and let him be hot down there," said one family member, whose sister was brutally murdered in 1984.
Tuesday was day two of the trial in Baton Rouge over hot temperatures on death row at Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola. One of the death row inmates involved in the lawsuit is Nathaniel Code. He is convicted of brutally murdering four people in Shreveport, though prosecutors say they proved he killed eight in the 1980's.
"You're on death row, you're not supposed to be comfortable," said Linda Logan, who is angry. Her little sister was killed and nearly decapitated by Code, one of three inmates, who is now suing the state, wanting cooler temperatures in their death row cells. "He's been complaining the whole time that he's been on death row, now his sensitive butt is too hot?" asked Logan. "It was this month he killed my sister August of 1984, you see how hot it is out here?" she said.
The trial began Monday in Baton Rouge. The judge heard from both sides for roughly 9 hours each day. "At the end of the day that's what this comes down to. We think we're going to make that case clearly and we're just looking forward to hearing what the judge's thoughts are on that," said Mercedes Montagnes, who is an attorney with the Promise of Justice Initiative, who is representing the inmates. They claim the excessive heat on death row is inhumane and dangerous. It's an argument Logan says she doesn't care about. "Look, you're on death row, dead man walking, now go sit in the cell and sweat," Logan said.
Attorneys representing the Louisiana Department of Corrections would not comment, saying they haven't finished presenting their case yet. But in the court documents, they argue Angola does not have to control the climate on death row and on top of that, air conditioning installation would cost tax payers well over $225,000.00, and that is something Linda Logan will not stand for. "If they do that, something is wrong. Something is wrong with this world. Something is wrong with our system," she said.
Another hot topic in the courts was whether the jail warden interfered with a judge's mandate to collect evidence. In July, a court order was issued requiring a third party to collect heat data from various areas at the prison. However, in court, numerous witnesses testified that prison officials installed awnings after the court order was issued. On Tuesday, the judge heard from Warden Burl Cain on why he built an awning against the judge's orders. "Oh yeah it's on me. I did it. I can't pass that buck, it's mine. I told them to do it but it was in good faith and we weren't being malicious about it. I didn't want to be sneaky and he was right to call my hand on it," said Cain.
"I'm not sure that its been resolved. I think there will be further evidence on that in the future and we will hear more of the judges thoughts on that. I'm just happy today focused on the real issues of the inhumane conditions inside of death row," said plaintiff's attorney Mercedes Montagnes.
Court proceedings for Tuesday ended around 6 p.m., Judge Brian Jackson ordered everyone back in court on Wednesday at 8 a.m.