State

An inmate charged with DUI died after guards beat him. Now, an attacker goes to prison

A former Perry County jail guard convicted of beating an inmate who later died has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

William Curtis Howell, 61, was a supervisor deputy jailer at the Kentucky River Regional Jail in Hazard when he and another supervisor, Damon Wayne Hickman, assaulted inmate Larry Trent in 2013.

The attack happened after Trent, 54, who was charged with driving under the influence, briefly ran out of his cell, according to court records.

Hickman threw Trent to the floor and kicked him in the ribs, according to a court record.

After deputies carried Trent back to his cell, Hickman and Howell punched, kicked and stomped Trent, according to testimony.

Witnesses reported that before closing the cell door, Howell kicked Trent in the head as he lay on the floor, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.

A maintenance worker found Trent unresponsive about four hours later.

An autopsy showed he died from internal bleeding caused by a fractured pelvis, though blows to his head and body contributed.

Hickman, who pleaded guilty and testified against Howell, was sentenced to 10 years and six months in prison.

Howell was convicted of using excessive force against Trent and denying him medical care.

Chief U.S. District Judge Karen K. Caldwell sentenced him Friday in federal court in Lexington.

Howell must report to prison April 13. He will have to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence.

“There is no place in law enforcement or corrections for this shocking and illegal conduct,” U.S. Attorney Robert M. Duncan Jr. said in a news release. “The actions of those convicted dishonor the work done and sacrifices made by the overwhelming majority of law enforcement and corrections officers.”

Three other former guards at the jail have been convicted in connection with assaulting inmates.

Kevin Asher was sentenced to nine years in prison. Matthew B. Amburgey and Jarod Allen Lucas, who each face up to a year in prison, have not been sentenced.

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