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Ex-guard indicted on murder charge in inmate's 2020 death

Posted at 10:03 PM, Apr 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-19 22:06:52-04

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — A former corrections officer has been indicted on felony charges in the death of a county jail inmate last year, state authorities said.

Former Scioto County sheriff’s office corrections officer Billy Thompson was indicted by a county grand jury Friday on murder, voluntary manslaughter and reckless homicide charges, the Ohio attorney general’s office said Monday.

The charges stem from a struggle that occurred as inmate Kevin Bailey was being moved within the Scioto County jail on May 25, 2020, officials said. Thompson is accused of having slammed Bailey to the ground, authorities said. Bailey, 56, died June 1 at a hospital due to blunt force trauma to the head, neck and torso, authorities said.

Thompson was to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in the Scioto County Court of Common Pleas. Officials said the in-custody death was investigated by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the attorney general’s office special prosecution section was appointed to prosecute the case.

Attorney Stew Matthews said his firm would represent Thompson at the hearing “and we’ll proceed from there.” He said Thompson had worked for the office for several years before leaving for work overseas, but had returned and was re-employed for some months before the death, and “his employment ended as a result of this incident.”

Bailey’s sister, Karen Skaggs, who last summer led a protest about her brother’s death, told the Portsmouth Daily Times that she was “happy, sad and mad” about news of the charges. She said she hopes the case “will show just because you wear a badge, you cannot do this without being held accountable for it.”