SPRINGFIELD — A man sentenced to life in prison for a deadly 2021 gas station shooting in Springfield died at the Clark County Jail just hours after his sentencing hearing, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
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Emil Witherspoon, 44, was found unresponsive in his jail cell around 11:25 a.m. Friday by deputies doing routine cell checks, according to Clark County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Kris Shultz.
Deputies and jail nursing staff attempted life-saving measures and called for medics to respond to the jail. Witherspoon would later be pronounced dead by Springfield Regional Medical Center personnel at 12:07 p.m., Shultz said.
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Witherspoon’s injuries were described as being consistent with him harming himself, however the Clark County Coroner’s Office has not made any official rulings, Shultz said.
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Witherspoon was scheduled for sentencing Friday at 9 a.m. where a judge handed down the life in prison without parole sentence. Hours later, he was pronounced dead.
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On Wednesday, a jury convicted Witherspoon on charges of murder and felonious assault for the July 10 shooting at a Speedway gas station on South Burnett Road.
Killed in the shooting was Antoine Crooks, 32, of Westerville, Ohio. Crooks was the boyfriend of Tiffany Brugler, 41, who was also injured in the shooting. Burgler and Witherspoon had been in a previous relationship and police said the motive of the shooting was domestic violence.
Also injured in the shooting were two children, a 7-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy. Both were released from area hospitals within days of the shooting.
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Witherspoon had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the charges, but was found competent to stand trial after court-ordered mental evaluations.
Shultz said the sheriff’s office is conducting an investigation to determine what happened and led to Witherspoon’s death. While the investigation is ongoing, Shultz said sheriff’s office investigators have no indication that anything was done or said that would indicate Witherspoon was in danger of harming himself up until the time he was discovered.
David Stenson, Witherspoon’s defense attorney during the trial declined comment when reached by News Center 7′s John Bedell.
We’ll continue to update this story as we learn more.
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