The Texas death row inmate who ignited a growing scandal on prison contraband after he was caught talking on a smuggled cell phone has been transferred to a prison psychiatric unit after guards discovered a 3-foot strip of sheet tied to a fixture in his cell, the Houston Chronicle reports. Richard Tabler was restrained and taken in for evaluation after guards also noticed red marks on his neck. Tabler’s threatening calls from a smuggled cell phone to state Sen. John Whitmire and a reporter prompted Gov. Rick Perry to order a systemwide lockdown so guards could sweep all 112 prisons for contraband.
The massive search through Texas prisons has turned up 13 more smuggled cell phones and 12 more cell phone chargers in the past 24 hours, including another phone and charger found on death row. That brings the number of cell phones found since Monday on Texas’ death row to four. Another 19 cell phones or cell phone parts have been discovered on death row since January. Felony charges were filed yesterday against Tabler’s 36-year-old sister, Kristina Martinez for carrying a prohibited item into a correctional facility. John Moriarty, the prison system’s inspector general, said Martinez and her mother, Lorraine Tabler, are suspected of paying the minutes on the cell phone Tabler used and apparently lent his prison buddies to make nearly 2,800 calls over the past month.