Mother of inmate strangled at supermax Virginia prison sues, claiming guards helped killer

RICHMOND, Va. — Guards and security officials at Virginia’s most secure prison conspired with an inmate to give him the opportunity to kill another prisoner, the slain man’s mother claims in a lawsuit.

Aaron Cooper, 26, was killed on July 28, 2010, when Robert Gleason strangled him through a separate cage on the recreation yard at the supermax Red Onion State Prison. Gleason, who was serving a life sentence for a 2007 slaying and had killed his cellmate in 2009, had vowed before Cooper’s death to keep killing unless he was sentenced to death. Gleason received the death sentence last year.

Kim Strickland claims in a federal lawsuit filed late Friday that Gleason traded favors with prison guards in order to arrange her son’s slaying. It accuses prison guards and security officers of not doing required searches, of allowing Gleason to determine which inmates were allowed out that day and where they were positioned, and of arranging for in-person and video monitoring stations to be abandoned.  More

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