SC Man Killed Fellow Inmates to Get Death Penalty

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One by one, South Carolina inmate Denver Simmons recalled, he and his partner lured inmates into his cell. William Scruggs was promised cookies in exchange for doing some laundry; Jimmy Ham thought he was coming to snort some crushed pills. Over the course of a half-hour, four men accepted Simmons’ hospitality. None of them made it out alive. Calmly, matter-of-factly, Simmons, 35, told the Associated Press how he and Jacob Philip strangled and beat fellow inmates to death and hid their bodies to avoid spooking the next victims. Why did they do it? Convicted in the cold-blooded shootings of a mother and her teenage son, Simmons knew he would never leave prison alive. Tired of life behind bars, a failure at suicide, he hoped the killings would land him on death row.

Officials say Philip and Simmons have confessed to the April 7 slayings. Simmons called the AP three times. He described a twisted compact between two men who had “a whole lot in common” from the moment they met — most important, both despair and a willingness to kill again. South Carolina hasn’t carried out an execution in six years, and court challenges likely will keep capital punishment on hold for the foreseeable future. Simmons believes he’ll do the next 10 years in solitary and probably get another four life sentences tacked onto the two he was already doing. “I did it all, I did it for nothing,” he said. “So that makes it especially bad for me, you know?”

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