Two hours after a convicted murderer received a life sentence in prison, he was found dead in his jail cell.
Now, authorities are scrambling for answers.
Recently in Ohio, a Clark County Court judge sentenced Emil Witherspoon, 44, to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the shooting death of Antoine Crooks, 32. Witherspoon was found guilty and convicted of aggravated murder, two counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, four counts of felonious assault and tampering with evidence in connection to the shooting.
On July 10, 2021, police officers responded to a shooting at a gas station in the 400 Block of South Burnett Road in Springfield, Ohio. Crooks’ body was found by the gas pumps with gunshot wounds to the chest.
The defendant’s ex-girlfriend, Tiffany Brugler, 41, was also shot in the head and arm while at the store. In addition, Crooks’ 6-year-old son was shot in the leg, and a 7-year-old girl in the store suffered a gunshot wound. Brugler and the children were rushed to the hospital, and they all survived the ordeal.
Witherspoon reportedly turned himself to the police three days later. He was arrested, and his bond was set at $1 million.
Though the motive remained unclear, authorities classified the shooting as an instance of domestic violence. The defendant pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, reported WHIO TV.
As a result, Witherspoon’s mental health was evaluated, and he was later deemed fit to stand trial.
Around 11:25 a.m. On Feb. 4, 2022, after the defendant was sentenced, deputies at the Clark County jail found the Witherspoon unresponsive on a routine cell check. The jail’s medical staff and Springfield’s first responders employed life-saving measures, but they were unsuccessful.
Witherspoon was pronounced dead at the Springfield Regional Medical Center.
Both the Clark County Coroner’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office are investigating the death. However, Clark County Sheriff Lt. Kris Shultz believed Witherspoon’s death was consistent with self-harm.
“We’re doing a full and thorough investigation,” Shultz said.
He added there was no indication of “despondence” or a plan of self-harm by Witherspoon prior to him being discovered in his cell, Shultz said, according to Springfield News-Sun.