By Julie Montanaro
October 3, 2013
The family of a Florida prison inmate stabbed to death aboard a prison transport bus is now suing the state for failing to stop it.
Eric Sexton was killed on the road somewhere between Jefferson County and Gadsden County and his family claims the correctional officers on board are partlty to blame.
We must warn you both this story and the pictures that go with it are graphic and disturbing.
Eric Sexton was doing time for murder himself. 40 years in the Department of Corrections.
He got aboard this prison transport bus on September 20th, 2011 and never got off.
Sexton was one of 24 inmates who left Jefferson C-I that morning at 10:32. By the time the bus reached the Northwest Florida Recpetion Center in Chipley two hours and 16 minutes later, Sexton was dead.
"I don't think anybody should have to go through what Mr. Sexton went through regardless of his offense," Sexton family attorney Robert Dwyer said in a phone interview Thursday.
When the bus pulled up to the prison in Chipley, Elijah Brookins was the last inmate to get off the bus. Corrections officers said he was covered in blood. He's now charged with Sexton's murder.
According to interviews in a DOC Inspector General's report, some inmates on board say they were asleep and never saw a thing, but others described chaos saying Sexton was screaming for his life and other inmates were screaming too.
One said Brookins stabbed Sexton 15-20 times including in the eye, face and neck.
When Brookins was done, another inmate said, he urinated on Sexton, used the water cooler on board to clean up and then sat down and ate a sandwich.
Attachments to that same DOC report show the two sergeants in charge of the transport filled out incident reports and neither one claims to have heard a thing.
"At no time .. did I hear any distrubance from the back of the bus," Sergeant Raymond Hill wrote.
The other sergeant Gordon Wester signed off on the bus log that he did security checks at 11, 11:30 and 12 noon "looking through the Plexiglass and metal screen into the rest of the bus."
Sexton's attorney contends that never happened because they would have discovered the attack in progress or the aftermath and could have prevented Sexton's death.
"Anybody who looked into the back of the bus would have figured out somebody was seriously injured," Dwyer said. "They clearly did not do their jobs, it would be hard to imagine they could do anything less."
Dwyer points to inmate interviews that say the attack happened soon after the bus left Jefferson CI. Dwyer claims it happened within the first hour or so because the suspected murder weapon - a nearly 12 inch metal shank - was found on the side of I-10 in Gadsden County.
Dwyer wonders how that shank got on the bus in the first place.
The Florida Department of Corrections refused to answer any questions about this case citing pending litigation.
It did update us on the status of the correctional officers involved. Both are still working for the department of corrections and neither was disciplined in any way for this incident.
"He died a pretty horrific death without any assistance from the people that were being paid to protect him," Dwyer claimed.
The wrongful death suit was filed in Leon Circuit Court September 18th.
Elijah Brookins is scheduled to stand trial for Sexton's murder in Gadsden County in December. Prosecutors there are seeking the death penalty.
UPDATED: July 2, 2012 5:30pm
by Julie Montanaro
Prosecutors are revealing more information about a deadly stabbing aboard a prison transport bus in September.
Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappelman says Elijah Brookins stabbed Eric Sexton more than 20 times with a handmade knife. Cappelman says the shank was recovered on the side of Interstate 10 in Gadsden County.
Cappleman says because no one can be sure if Sexton was killed in Jefferson, Leon or Gadsden County, Brookins will be allowed to choose in which county he's tried.
Cappelman says the driver of the prison bus had no idea Sexton was attacked and killed until the bus arrived at its destination at the Northwest Florida Reception Center in Washington County. She says when the inmates filed off the bus there, one had blood on his shirt and one was missing. Sexton was found dead inside the bus.
Cappelman says there was a total of 24 inmates on the bus.
Cappelman says there is no surveillance system that allows the driver and accompanying guard to see what's going on in the back of the bus and there are two plexiglass barriers that may have muffled the sound.
Cappelman says the inmates on board wear leg shackles, but not handcuffs. Cappelman says even if the bus driver heard the attack, the bus would not be able to pull over and stop, except in a secure area or sally port.
We are trying to get more information on this incident from the Department of Corrections. Spokeswoman Ann Howard says DOC will not release information on the DOC's transport protocols because it could jeopardize people's safety.
UPDATED 7.2.2012 by Julie Montanaro
33 year old Elijah Brookins has just been indicted by a Leon County grand jury in the murder of Eric Sexton.
Sexton was killed aboard a prison transport van in September 2011.
Brookins was indicted last week and this morning, a judge signed an order to transport Brookins from Florida State Prison to Leon County.
According to Department of Corrections records, Brookins is serving a life sentence for a 1995 murder in Escambia County.
Sexton was still alive when he left a stop at Jefferson Correctional. It is not clear where he was killed along the way.
Tallahassee, FL -- September 21 , 2011
According to Gretl Plessinger with Florida Department of Corrections, Eric Sexton, 34, was killed during an inmate transport from one prison to another Tuesday morning. DOC says it happened after a stop at the Jefferson Correctional Institute.
Sexton, who was sentenced in Orange County, was serving a 40-year sentence for second degree murder. Another inmate is being called a suspect in Sexton’s death, but DOC is not releasing his name at this time. Investigators have recovered a weapon, but are not saying what the weapon is at this time.
The inmates were being transported from Columbia Correctional Institute, and heading to Northwest Florida Reception Center in Washington County. DOC will not say how many inmates were on the bus or what security measures were in place. The case remains under investigation.