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Inmate convicted in guard's slaying

Associated Press
Published February 25, 2006

PUNTA GORDA - A jury convicted a prison inmate Friday in the slayings of a female guard and another inmate in a botched escape attempt in 2003.

Dwight T. Eaglin was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Charlotte Correctional Institution guard Darla Lathrem and inmate Charles Fuston.

A sentencing hearing was scheduled Monday. Eaglin faces the death penalty.

State investigators said Eaglin, 30, was one of three prisoners who attacked Lathrem, beat her to death and stuffed her body into a mop closet at the prison on June 11, 2003. Fuston died several days later from injuries suffered in the attack.

Lathrem was on duty alone, armed only with pepper spray and a radio. She was the first female officer ever killed in Florida.

Inmates Michael Jones and Stephen Smith are also charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Jones' trial is scheduled to begin April 17; Smith's, June 12.

The families of Fuston and Lathrem have both filed lawsuits against the state's Department of Corrections, alleging the department violated its own rules and policies.

[Last modified February 25, 2006, 01:36:16]

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