An inmate has now been given his third life sentence after he pleaded guilty to killing and mutilating his cellmate.
The 11th Circuit Solicitor’s Office announced that 35-year-old John New’s sentence was handed down last week. New had been charged with killing 49-year-old Ricky Cooper in the McCormick Correctional Institution back in November 2011. State police said at the time that Cooper had been found strangled near a shower with the word “pervert” written on his forehead. Cooper was serving a 20-year sentence at the time for criminal sexual conduct with a minor.
At the time of Cooper’s death, New was already serving two life sentences for taking hostages during a prison riot 11 years earlier. Prior to that New, formerly of Greenville, was serving time for a series of larceny and burglary charges.
The death generated some minor controversy at the time, as McCormick was more than 100 inmates above its 1,142 capacity at the time of 2011 strangulation. The chair of the state Senate Corrections & Penology Committee Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, had also said officials told him it took time to find Cooper’s body after he was first reported missing in the facility, which Fair attributed to guard understaffing.
Cooper had been a Graniteville resident before his incarceration. He was accused of assaulting two children under age 12.