DRAPER, Utah — Unified Police have opened a homicide investigation after an inmate at the Utah State Prison was pronounced dead early Thursday morning.
According to a news release from the Utah Department of Corrections, officers found 33-year-old James C. Corbett lying on the floor of his cell around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Officers removed Corbett's cellmate, 38-year-old Timothy P. Maez, from the cell and performed CPR on Corbett.
Maez is now a suspect in Corbett's murder.
"There was definitely an assault and obvious trauma to his upper body, there was blood to the point where they weren't sure exactly what caused his death," said Lt. Lex Bell of the Unified Police Department.
Karl Campbell, Corbett's uncle, was shocked.
"You wouldn't believe that something like that should happen at a prison," he said.
Corbett was then taken to a hospital and pronounced dead about an hour later.
The Utah Department of Corrections' Law Enforcement Bureau is assisting the Unified Police Department's investigation into Corbett's death.
"The only other person with our victim was his cellmate at that time," Bell said.
It is unclear what led up to the alleged attack but police said it's possible the cellmate used a ballpoint pen to stab Corbett.
Police will further question the cellmate once an autopsy is complete.
Corbett had been serving a sentence for two counts of attempted sexual abuse of a child. He had been scheduled to be discharged from the prison on September 9, 2016.
Campbell said he hasn't seen his nephew in years.
"He's been in trouble since he was young, he's been in and out of incarceration," Campbell said.
He also said the attack means their hopes for Corbett's future rehabilitation will go unrealized.
"He was doing his sentence, but I thought he was going to be released," Campbell said. "...[We hoped] that he'd turn his life around, and be a better person."
Officials said Maez has been in and out of prison since 1999; his most recent incarceration began in June 2014.
He is currently serving time for attempted aggravated kidnapping, retaliation against a judge/BOPP and propelling a substance at a correctional officer.
His past history includes convictions for vehicle burglary, burglary, retail theft, attempted robbery, aggravated assault by a prisoner and absconding.
Maez's next appearance before the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole was set for May 2019.