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Inmate murder: Pima Jail short staffed day of killing

Posted at 7:46 PM, May 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-16 22:46:36-04

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Did short staffing in the Pima County Jail figure into the first inmate killing there in 35 years?

 A man already charged with murder -- is now charged with killing his cell mate last month.

The Sheriff's Department investigation shows the corrections officer watching the cells -- was carrying twice his normal workload--  the day of the killing

Video from the jail surveillance system shows corrections officers responding to an apparent beating that became a death.

24 year old burglary suspect Brenden Roth was dead, found in a pool of blood.

23 year old King Yates was the only other man in the cell.  He was awaiting trial on charges of killing his wife.

The report says it took three orders to get out of bed and out of the cell, before Yates complied and was arrested for murder.

Some inmates told investigators there was no particular tension in the collection of cells, called a pod but others called King Yates aggressive and confrontational.

The report makes it clear supervision for the pod was not as tight as usual.  According to investigation records a Corrections Officer would normally check each cell in his pod every fifteen minutes. A standard pod holds 36 two-person cells, with a total of 72 inmates. 

 But the day of the murder the officer in charge of the pod that held King Yates and Brendan Roth was checking cells every 30 minutes.  Another officer had gone home sick so the corrections officer was asked to do double duty and cover twice as many cells---72 cells with as many as 144 inmates.  And he was doing those checks along with other tasks like moving inmates for medical treatment.