By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
A man convicted in Wyoming of second-degree murder is suing the state, alleging mistreatment at the hands of his jailers in Virginia.
Charles Kenzell Carter, in a 34-page hand-written complaint filed with U.S. District Court, is suing the Wyoming Department of Corrections, claiming that as retaliation for complaints he filed while held at the Wyoming State Penitentiary, he was transferred to Virginia, where he has been subjected to as beatings and threats from corrections officers.
Carter is seeking more than $500,000 in damages from Corrections Department Director Dan Shannon and Housing Manager Carl Vogstberger and is seeking a return to the Wyoming State Penitentiary.
“(The defendants are) liable for all damages and injurys (sic) I have received due to their neglect and abandon of me and reckless disreguard (sic) to my health, safety, well being, cry for help, which they failed to act and abused me to be injuryed (sic) by the same person that was making threats of physical harm to me.”
Carter was convicted in 2017 of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of a co-worker in Rock Springs and was sentenced to 40 to 80 years in prison.
According to the lawsuit, Carter was transferred to Virginia in August 2019, ostensibly to be closer to his home state of North Carolina. But he said the transfer was retaliation for complaints about excessive force being used against him at the Wyoming State Penitentiary he made in January of 2019.
Carter said he was placed in a Virginia Department of Corrections institution “reserved for Virginia’s most violent and dangerous offenders” and transferred in 2020 to another prison. The second prison, Red Onion State Prison, had a level of custody higher than Wyoming institutions and allowed a greater use of force by officers than is allowed in Wyoming, the lawsuit said.
Carter’s lawsuit described a series of mistreatments while at ROSP, including being bound by a chain in a cell where all furniture had been removed and the inmate’s movements are restricted and being strapped to a table. Both actions were described as disciplinary.
Carter also said he was thrown to the floor and beaten by a guard while at the Virginia prison, threatened by guards and has generally been retaliated against for filing complaints about his treatment there.
When Carter offered to pay for his own transfer to a North Carolina institution the request was improperly denied by the Wyoming Department of Corrections, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit alleged the situation violates Carter’s constitutional rights of free speech and equal treatment under the law, saying since Carter is a North Carolina resident and not a resident of Wyoming he is being treated differently than other prisoners.
“Because I’m a citizen of North Carolina and not Wyoming, … I’m being subjected to forms of discipline prohibited by the laws of Wyoming …” it said.
In addition to the monetary damages, Carter is asking that the state be forced to transfer him back to Wyoming “and prohibit any future transfers back to Virginia.”