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Officials: Zephyrhills inmate died after fight with cellmate

ZEPHYRHILLS — A 68-year-old inmate at Zephyrhills Correctional Institution died over the weekend after a fight with a cellmate, authorities said.

The man, whose name is being withheld pending notification of his family, died of apparent asphyxiation, Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said.

"We're investigating it as a homicide," she said. "It looks like one inmate killed another inmate."

The 68-year-old prisoner got into a fight about 9 p.m. Sunday with James J. Hugger, 52, Plessinger said. They shared a four-man cell with two other inmates who were not involved in the dispute, Plessinger said.

Guards responded when they heard the altercation, but the inmate died shortly afterward.

The medical examiner is conducting an autopsy, and the Inspector General is investigating. No charges have been filed in the inmate's death.

Hugger, pictured, is serving a 15-year prison sentence for attempted second-degree murder for a 2000 incident in Miami-Dade. His prison file contains reports of other incidents behind bars, including a 2007 fight with another cellmate and a 2008 altercation in which he bit a guard's thumb.

He was transferred to Union Correctional Institution and placed in solitary confinement after the fight Sunday night.

Officials: Zephyrhills inmate died after fight with cellmate 03/03/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 3, 2010 6:01pm]
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