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State agents have not yet implicated anyone in the fatal stabbing of a convicted killer earlier this month at Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville, authorities said Tuesday.
The body of Christopher DeWayne Gale, 30, of Columbia, was found March 3 in a cell at the prison that houses some of the state's most violent offenders.
Dorchester County Coroner Chris Nisbet said Gale died of multiple stab wounds. Other inmates found his body, Nisbet said.
The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating, and SLED spokesman Thom Berry said Tuesday that agents had not charged anyone.
No further information was available.
SLED had not completed any reports documenting its initial response to the death, Berry said, and would not have any paperwork until the probe is done.
S.C. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Stephanie Givens also could not provide any information about the incident.
Lieber officials in the past two years have touted their efforts to curb the use of makeshift weapons, cellphones and other contraband.
Gale had been behind bars since just after he turned 18 in November 2001, when Columbia police arrested him on charges of armed robbery and murder.
Before that, his only arrest was for petty larceny.
Gale pleaded guilty in October 2002 and was sentenced to 35 years in prison, court records show.
Since then, he has fought for a new trial by arguing in court filings that he pleaded guilty on bad advice from his attorney.
Gale blamed his lawyer for not interviewing witnesses he said would have given evidence of his innocence, according to handwritten paperwork filed in federal court.
The attorney had told Gale that his mother wanted him to plead guilty and that an all-white jury already had been chosen, Gale wrote. Gale was black.
Prosecutors, he added, had only hearsay testimony and no physical evidence against him. He highlighted the account of a man who said Gale had given him a gun used in a robbery and shooting at a store in Columbia.
Gale said his constitutional right to a fair trial was violated because his attorney and the prosecutors had worked against him.
"While a criminal trial is not a game in which the participants are expected to enter the ring with a near match in skills," he wrote, "neither is it a sacrifice of unarmed prisoners to gladiators."
His appeal was dismissed in February 2009 because, judges ruled, he had not filed it soon enough.
But his battle against the state continued.
Last year, Gale and other inmates at Lieber sued the Department of Corrections in federal court. As members of the Nation of Islam, they asserted that officials had violated their religious freedom. They said their jailers were denying them a chance to worship separately from other Muslim groups at the prison.
The lawsuit has not been resolved.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.
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