By Julie K. Brown and Mary Ellen Klas
Latandra Ellington had weathered some of Lowell Correctional Institution's harshest and most primitive realities, and was just seven months shy of freedom - and being reunited with her four young children.
But on Sept. 21, Ellington wrote a chilling letter to her aunt telling her she feared she wouldn't make it out of the Ocala prison alive. One of the officers at the prison had threatened to kill her, she wrote.
Ten days later, on Oct. 1, Ellington, 36, was dead. Corrections officials said Ellington, who had been serving 22 months for grand theft, was in confinement at the time of her death because the agency had taken her family's concerns about the alleged threats "seriously.''
Still, with no answers about how the death happened, the family hired an attorney and paid for a private autopsy. The autopsy, their lawyer said Monday, showed that Ellington suffered blunt-force trauma to her abdomen consistent with being punched and kicked.
On Monday, civil rights attorney Daryl Parks, whose firm represented the Trayvon Martin family and has been hired by Ellington's relatives, urged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate.