Nineteen-year-old inmate Jayvon Hatchett, the suspect in a racially-charged stabbing last month, is now facing charges for beating his white cellmate to death.
On Aug. 25, Hatchett allegedly stabbed a 51-year-old white male employee seven times in an unprovoked attack at an AutoZone in Columbus, Georgia. WRBL reported that the young black teen targeted the victim because of the color of his skin, smiling while telling law enforcement that he “felt the need to find a white male to kill” after watching Facebook videos of “police brutality." Hatchell was charged with aggravated assault and possession of a weapon during the commission of the crime.
Then deceased beating victim, 39-year-old Eddie Nelson Jr., was pronounced dead by Deputy Coroner Charles Newton at approximately 2:30 a.m. early Saturday morning at the Muscogee County Jail, where Hatchett was held without bond until his case went to Superior Court. According to WTVM, Nelson had been detained since Aug. 26, charged with violating probation and failing to register as a sex offender.
“I have a question for the Sheriff. Why?” Nelson’s mother told WLTZ First News. “Why did you put my son and that other man in there together? Why? Can you answer me that? I lost a son because of y’all’s negligence," she asked and answered.
The family's attorney, Craig Jones, weighed in on the racial incident.
“If this mentally imbalanced individual had been a member of the Ku Klux Klan, they would not have put him in a cell with a black person,” Jones pointed out.
“If he was a rapist, they wouldn’t have put him in a cell with a woman,” Jones continued. “If he had bombed a synagogue they wouldn’t have put him in a cell with a Jewish person. If he had been that white kid up in Wisconsin that shot those demonstrators they would not have put him in a cell with demonstrators. I mean this is either sheer stupidity or meanness that’s the only way I can explain it.”
District Attorney-elect Mark Jones noted that, if convicted, Hatchett could be one of the first offenders sentenced under the new Georgia Hate Crime Bill signed in the summer of 2020 by Governor Brian Kemp, which legislates heavier sentencing. While a hate crime charge cannot be added at the law enforcement level, but if proven in court, the judge can add years to a prison sentence.
Jones commented on the new guidelines in reference to the Autozone case, telling News Leader 9 that "if the allegations are true, then defendant should be charged with aggravated battery with a hate crime sentencing enhancement if convicted beyond a reasonable doubt."
Jones added: “The Hate Crime Bill imposes a mandatory imprisonment term as a sentencing enhancement on offenders who commit unjustified acts of violence solely on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, or physical disability. Our community must categorically reject unjustified violence, of any type, and we must use the law fully to that end.”
The investigation into Nelson's death by the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office is still ongoing.