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Community reacts to inmate homicide at prison

An Illinois prisoner had a run-in with staff last May.

His death was ruled a homicide.

That’s the word out of Mt. Sterling Sunday night, where the Western Illinois Correctional Center is located.

The new details were obtained by the Associated Press in an autopsy report.

The AP filed a “Freedom of Information Request,” after state officials refused to release any details.

Officials still aren’t talking Sunday, but it is still the talk of the town among residents.

“Well it’s news that I really didn’t expect to hear,” Mt. Sterling resident Dan Volk said.

“I don’t know how to take it,” Mt. Sterling resident Linda Dewitt said.

Documents obtained by the Associated Press show an altercation between correctional staff and 65-year-old inmate Larry Earvin that resulted in Earvin’s death last May.

Dewitt stopped by the local grocery store, where she said everyone was talking about the new information.

“Oh, I don’t like it a bit,” Dewitt said. “I think that’s the most horrible thing they could have ever done, to beat him up like that. They said that he was beaten real bad.”

According to the AP, suspended for allegedly violating conduct standards were:

Correctional Sgt. Willie Hedden of Mount Sterling

Correctional Lieutenant Benjamin Burnett of Winchester

Correction Lieutenant Blake Haubrich of Quincy

Correctional officer Alex Banta of Quincy

“We knew some of the guys involved,” Volk said. “I’m sure they’re shocked right now, to hear this because of everything we’ve been hearing so far up to now.”

Neither corrections officials or investigators will answer any questions about what happened here.

They also won’t talk about what, if anything, is being done to prevent another incident.

But residents said they know what needs to be done.

“They need to go to prisons themselves and not here,” Dewitt said. “They need to go to a bigger prison and they need to be tried just like everybody else. I think this is wrong.”

Locals continue to hope for justice, while officials remain tight-lipped.

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Kara Biernat

Kara Biernat is a MultiMedia Journalist for WGEM News.

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