published Monday, August 25th, 2014

Attorneys for suffocated Tennessee inmate: State hid evidence

The family of a prison inmate who died after being pinned by guards is asking a federal judge to reopen their lawsuit in light of new evidence from a prison guard’s resignation letter, which surfaced in a New York Times article about the case but hadn’t been given to their lawyers.

Charles Toll, 34, died Aug. 17, 2010, at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution after guards forcibly removed him from his cell — a death ruled a homicide by a medical examiner. His mother, Jane Luna, sued the state, but lost the case after a two-week jury trial in August 2013. But his attorneys are asking a judge for a new trial after they say the state withheld evidence that the Tennessee Department of Correction falsified training documents and ignored potential witnesses in investigating the death.

“Ms. Luna lost her son. She can accept the jury verdict, so long as that verdict results in a prevailing of justice,” said one of her attorneys, David Weissman. “But if documents were hidden from her, that’s not justice and that’s not something she can live with.”

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