Two Federal Inmates Sentenced for Racially Motivated Murder
ATLANTA—Donald R. LaFond, Jr. was sentenced today to life imprisonment, and Jason Robert Widdison was sentenced to 31 years and eight months in federal prison for murdering a fellow prison inmate at the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta. Both defendants were convicted of second-degree murder after a jury trial on February 3, 2014.
“These defendants, members of a white supremacist prison gang, brutally murdered another inmate for not objecting to having an African-American cellmate,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “Whether racially motivated violence occurs on our streets or in our prisons, we will hold the perpetrators accountable.”
J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated, “Law and order within a correctional facility setting is paramount in protecting the safety and lives of not only those inmates living within the walls of the facility but also for those working there. The FBI will continue to provide investigative assistance to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in ensuring that these inmates with gang or supremacy affiliations are held accountable for their violent actions.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: On March 1, 2011, LaFond and Widdison, both members of white supremacist prison gangs, were exercising inside the special housing unit recreation area of the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia. The victim, a white inmate who was not a gang member, joined the defendants in the area and attempted to make conversation and walk around with them.
After a short period of time, LaFond and Widdison suddenly began to punch the victim from both front and behind, knocking the victim to the ground. Both LaFond and Widdison then stomped on the victim’s head and neck, as many as 10 times each. Corrections officers witnessed the incident and intervened. Both men complied with the officers’ orders to stop beating the victim, but by then, the victim was unconscious. The victim was taken to a hospital but never regained consciousness. As a result of his injuries, the victim died on April 5, 2011.
The evidence at trial showed that, in the weeks leading up to the assault, LaFond and Widdison expressed anger towards the victim because the victim refused to protest the fact that he had an African-American cellmate. The defendants pressured the victim to take any steps necessary to be reassigned to another cell. Further evidence showed that the victim refused to comply with the defendants’ demands and that the defendants regarded this refusal as a violation of their gang code.
Donald R. LaFond, Jr., 53, of New Bedford, Massachusetts, and Jason Robert Widdison, 35, of Morgan, Utah, were convicted by a jury of second-degree murder on February 3, 2014, after a week-long trial. The sentences were imposed by U.S. District Judge William S. Duffey, Jr. and will be served consecutively to the defendants’ current prison sentences.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorneys Nekia S. Hackworth and Brent Alan Gray prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.Pressemails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/.