Ridgeland prison inmate pleads guilty in 2019 strangulation death of cellmate

Almost four years after an inmate at Ridgeland Correctional Institution was charged with killing his cellmate, he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter Friday in Jasper County, according to a news release from 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

Jeffrey Bryan Henderson, 37, admitted to the 2019 strangling death of Michael Edwards of Summerville and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Henderson was already serving a 15-year sentence that began in 2015 for first-degree domestic violence, second-degree domestic violence, burglary, armed robbery, distributing methamphetamine and escape.

On Oct. 8, 2019, in their cell sometime between 3:30 a.m and 12:30 p.m, Henderson attacked Edwards, according to previous Island Packet reporting. Guards found him dead under the bunk bed in his cell, according to the news release. Edwards’ cause of death, listed on the arrest warrant, was asphyxia/ligature strangulation.

At the time of his death, Edwards was serving a 10-year sentence for armed robbery, with a projected release date of 2023.

Henderson initially told investigators Edwards hung himself and that he hid the body under the bunk, concealing it behind shoes and a bundle of laundry, the solicitor’s office noted. Henderson claimed he was afraid to report the death because his cellmate was a gang member who’d been ordered to kill him.

A pathologist ruled the death a homicide and listed the cause of death as strangulation.

A few weeks following Edwards’ death, Henderson requested mental-health assistance and admitted he had killed his cellmate, the release said.

A week ago, another Ridgeland Correctional inmate was convicted of killing a fellow inmate at the institution. On Aug. 4, a Jasper County jury found Benjamin Walter “Animal” Dubois III, 39, guilty of the 2017 stabbing death of Jerry Douglas Holmes. Dubois was sentenced to life without parole, according to the news release.

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