Inmates sentenced to death for murder in Missouri

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Associated Press

Posted on June 3, 2014 at 11:06 AM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two inmates at a federal facility in Springfield have been sentenced to death for killing another inmate.

Wesley Paul Coonce Jr., 34, and Charles Michael Hall, 43, both inmates at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, were each convicted in May of first-degree murder in the 2010 death of 51-year-old Victor Castro-Rodriguez in his cell at the facility. Coonce was also convicted of murder by an inmate serving a life sentence.

The U.S. Justice Department said in a release that Coonce and Hall were sentenced to death Monday.

Coonce is serving a life sentence out of Texas for a September 2002 kidnapping conviction. He also was convicted in Gainesville, Texas, in 1998 of assaulting a public servant. Hall is serving 16 years for a 2000 conviction in Maine for threatening a federal judge and a federal prosecutor. He told investigators he wanted to be sentenced to death for killing Castro, according to court documents.

The Springfield facility is one of six federal medical centers and takes federal prisoners at all security levels.

Coonce and Hall were being held there when they killed Castro after tying him up with medical tape and shoelaces. Coonce told investigators he stomped on Castro's throat, while Hall said he stood on Castro's throat for several minutes because he was still alive after Coonce's kicks.

U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson said in a release that Castro was targeted by the two men in part because he helped a prison employee who was being attacked by an inmate.

"The defendants' conduct strikes at the heart of our justice system, which depends upon the safety and security of our penal institutions," Dickinson said.

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