Death-row inmate Kenneth Justus found dead in cell at Lieber
Kenneth Justus, a death-row inmate at Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville, was found dead in his cell Tuesday morning, authorities said.
An autopsy is planned this morning, Dorchester County Coroner Chris Nisbet said. Justus was 45.
Nisbet said he could not provide further information on the case until the autopsy is completed.
“I will release everything then,” he said.
Clark Newsom, spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, said Justus’ body was sent to Newberry for an autopsy.
“His death is under investigation,” Newsom said. “I can’t really comment on it until we get more details.”
In 2008, Justus received the death penalty for stabbing a fellow inmate, Justin Bregenzer, 22, of James Island, at least 11 times with a homemade knife.
Justus confessed to the 2005 crime. At the time, Justus was serving two life sentences for the armed robbery and shotgun-killing of two Oconee County residents in incidents that occurred a year apart.
Justus attacked Bregenzer with a shank, leaving behind what authorities said was a bloody crime scene that led straight back to him. Officials have not disclosed a reason for the slaying, but believe it may be have been tied to money.
Bregenzer had originally been sentenced to prison as a youthful offender for a nonviolent offense that included breaking into a vehicle in Mount Pleasant.
He was given additional time for escape after he walked away from a trash-pickup detail, and as a result he was sent to Lieber, one of the state prisons with the highest level of security.
Bregenzer’s family filed a wrongful-death suit against the Department of Corrections.
A $47,500 out-of-court settlement was negotiated in which the DOC admitted to no wrongdoing by prison officials.