A death row inmate was found dead at a Tennessee prison just days after the state filed a motion to set the date for his execution.
The body of 53-year-old Stephen Hugueley was discovered early Friday morning (July 16) at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville. According to a statement from the Tennessee Department of Correction, Hugueley was pronounced dead at 2:35 a.m. from what appeared to be natural causes, ABC News reports. His exact cause of death is still pending.
Hugueley was sentenced to death for the 2002 fatal stabbing of prison counselor Delbert Steed at the Hardeman County Correctional Complex where he had been serving a life sentence for killing his mother, Rachel Waller, in 1986. According to ABC News, he had also previously killed two inmates at other Tennessee prisons during the '90s.
Hugueley's attorney Amy Harwell said her client had spent the last 18 years in solitary confinement "where he had severely limited interaction with other humans and was systematically denied access to treatment and basic health care," which "took a tremendous physical and mental toll" upon Hugueley.
"He had been suicidal for years," said Harwell, recalling the phone call she received hours after his death. "But TDOC is telling me they do not think it was suicide."
Hugueley sued the DOC for his solitary confinement, accusing the department on Tuesday of using his impending execution to either "compel me to commit suicide, like my father" or to "coerce me into settling for less than I want."
If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor, or call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.