Cellmate charged in McCormick prison death

The cellmate of a convicted sex offender found dead in a prison in McCormick County has been charged with murder.

The State newspaper reported that a warrant released by the State Law Enforcement Division says 32-year-old John Michael New has been charged with murder.

Forty-nine-year-old Ricky Cooper was found dead late Saturday morning in front of a shower at the McCormick Correctional Institution.

The warrant states that Cooper was strangled. He had been serving a 20-year sentence for criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

New had been serving a life sentence for hostage taking.

Senate Corrections Committee Chairman Mike Fair of Greenville told the newspaper that his staff has been told Cooper was mutilated, though Fair said he did not have details.

SLED would not comment on the death.

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