Authorities now say an inmate found dead at a state prison in Columbia died from strangulation, although they are not yet calling it a homicide.
Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said Wednesday that 52-year-old Isaac Starke died from asphyxiation due to ligature strangulation, meaning his death was caused by an object (not human hands) tightened around his neck.
However, Watts told South Carolina Radio Network more investigation is needed into how Starke was strangled before his death can be deemed a homicide.
The South Carolina Department of Corrections said Starke was found in his cell at Broad River Correctional Institution on Saturday. The agency and State Law Enforcement Division are investigating the death.
Starke had been convicted for criminal sexual conduct with a minor and criminal sexual conduct and still had at least seven more years remaining on his sentence. During his time in prison, Starke was disciplined for several violations, including striking a prison employee and disorderly conduct.