A Baker teenager accused in the February strangulation of his East Baton Rouge Parish Prison cellmate was indicted Wednesday in the killing that authorities said stemmed from a fight over a blanket.
Kermitrius Thomas, 17, 7172 Jupiter Drive, was charged by a parish grand jury with second-degree murder in the Feb. 17 slaying of Tyrin Colbert, also 17.
At the time of the killing, Thomas was in jail on a count of unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile.
Colbert had been jailed since early November on accusations he tried to rape two boys.
Colbert was found Feb. 17 with a blanket around his neck in a two-person cell he shared with Thomas, who is suspected of pulling Colbert off the top bunk onto the floor and choking him with the blanket until Colbert was unconscious, sheriff’s officials have said. There were two blankets in the cell.
An East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office report says Colbert was heard yelling, “I’m sorry,” and “I give up,” during the incident. While deputies were trying to revive Colbert, the report states, Thomas walked out of the cell holding a piece of the blanket and was arrested.
Colbert faced a count of sexual battery and two counts of indecent behavior with juveniles but was never charged with the crimes, even though the required 60-day window in which prosecutors are supposed to file felony charges had passed.
He never filed a motion seeking his release under a state law guaranteeing defendants’ right to a speedy trial.
District Attorney Hillar Moore III has said his office did not charge Colbert within the 60 days because prosecutors were delayed by numerous unsuccessful tries to reach the victims’ mother and other relatives. He said the victim’s family never contacted the District Attorney’s Office about the alleged crime. Moore said back in February that Colbert likely would have been charged soon even without the family’s cooperation because the alleged victims were children.
Thomas’ case has been assigned to state District Judge Beau Higginbotham.