published Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Chattanooga man, Gary Dewayne Thompson, dies in state prison

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A Chattanooga man serving an 18-year sentence in state prison died in his cell Sunday morning, according to the Tennessee Department of Correction.

Gary Dewayne Thompson, 33, was found dead at the Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg, Tenn., said TDOC spokeswoman Cindy Dunning.

An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death and preliminary autopsy results have revealed no signs of foul play, said Dunning.

Official autopsy results are pending, she said.

Thompson was in prison on a 2010 aggravated robbery conviction in Chattanooga. He had acted as his own defense counsel during the extensive trial, according to newspaper archives.

At the time, Thompson had three prior convictions for aggravated robbery, which the judge cited as one of the main reasons for the long sentence.

In 2007, he filed a $30 million lawsuit against Hamilton County, Silverdale Detention Center and the Corrections Corporation of America, which manages the facility, alleging jail guards ordered him to beat up another inmate and punished him when he reported the incident to authorities.

The lawsuit claimed that several corrections officers placed a mentally challenged inmate into Thompson's cell on Dec. 4, 2006, because the inmate had a swastika cut into his arm. The guards asked Mr. Thompson to "rough up" the inmate, the lawsuit stated.

While testifying during his 2010 trial, Thompson said he received a $35,000 settlement from the lawsuit.

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