William G. McConnell Unit (ML) is a Texas state prison located in unincorporated Bee County, Texas, along Texas State Highway 181, 1 mile (1.6 km) east of the city limits of Beeville. It is a part of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ).
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On October 10, 1993, Rogelio Cannady, 21, beat his cellmate, Leovigildo Bonal, 55, to death. Cannady was serving life behind bars for murdering two teenagers in 1990. Cannady beat Bonal with a steel lock attached to a belt and then kicked and stomped him repeatedly. Bonal died two days later. Cannady become the first charged under a 1993 law that allows offenders serving 99 years or life for previous murders to be charged with a capital offense. He was convicted in 1997 and sentenced to death. Cannady was executed on May 19, 2010.
On December 17, 1999, Correctional Officer Daniel Nagle was fatally stabbed at his office in McConnell. He received seven stab wounds and died of a heart attack. It was the first murder of a prison guard in Texas state prisons committed by a prisoner since 1985. The State of Texas accused prisoner Robert Lynn Pruett (TDCJ death row ID #999411) of committing the crime. He received a death sentence and was moved to the Polunsky Unit. Pruett stated that he did not kill Nagle. Pruett was executed on October 12, 2017
As of 2001, the unit's warden was Leslie W. Woods. That year it had 2,806 prisoners. Many[vague] of the prisoners were Hispanic and Latino since the prison is in the South Texas region. As of 2001 the prison had 570 prison guards and 273 other employees.
In May 2003 Darrel Wafer, a 40-year old prisoner, was left in a hot shower. Because guards and a nurse did not remove him in time, Wafer died of hyperthermia. On August 1, 2004, prisoner Micah "Mike" Burrell died of an asthma attack. According to Texas Civil Rights Project attorney Scott Medlock, the prison guards decided not to assist him, and 15 other people (by 2007) had died due to negligence issues. Eileen Kennedy, the assistant warden of McConnell at the time, stated that she was unaware that a policy stating that an asthmatic should not be housed alone existed.
In 2013, in federal court, 14 prison guards at McConnell and 11 other individuals pleaded guilty to operating a smuggling ring in the prison. The individuals convicted of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) act got federal prison. Others got prison and/or probation time.
According to Major Brian Rodeen, as of 2001 many of the prisoners at McConnell have life sentences and most have sentences of over 45 years. Joseph T. Hallinan, author of Going Up the River: Travels in a Prison Nation, wrote that "The convicts at the McConnell Unit are among the most hardened in the Texas prison system."
As of 2001 the "administrative segregation" area, with 504 cells, had 504 prisoners segregated by race to prevent gang violence. The cells, divided into pods labeled by letters of the alphabet, included members of the Mexican Mafia. According to prison guards quoted in Going Up the River, the A pod includes gang leaders who do not wish to disturb the situation around them and therefore is more quiet, while F pod has lower ranking members and therefore is more tense. Rodeen referred to the McConnell ad seg section as being among the most dangerous in Texas.
- "McConnell (ML)." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on September 27, 2015.
- Dart, Tom. "Texas calls off Robert Pruett execution with just hours to spare ." The Guardian. April 28, 2015. Retrieved on January 20, 2016.
- Hallinan, Joseph T. "Chapter One" (Archived 2015-09-27 at WebCite). Going Up the River: Travels in a Prison Nation. 2001. Retrieved on September 27, 2015.
- Hoffberger, Chase. "Death Watch: Killer or Fall Guy?" (Archived 2016-01-20 at WebCite). Austin Chronicle. Friday April 24, 2015. Retrieved on January 20, 2016.
- Moore, Bethany. "Texas Death Row Inmate Makes Final Plea" ( Archived 2016-01-21 at WebCite). KWTX-TV. November 26, 2014. Retrieved on January 20, 2016.
- Blakeslee, Nate. "Shades of Gray" (Archived 2015-09-27 at WebCite). Austin Chronicle. Friday April 28, 2000. Retrieved on September 27, 2015.
- "Pruett, Robert." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on January 20, 2016.
- Smith, Jordan. "TDCJ Negligence Alleged." Austin Chronicle. Friday March 16, 2007. Retrieved on February 17, 2016.
- Connelly, Richard. "Fourteen Prison Guards Plead Guilty to Running Inmate-Drug Empire." Houston Press. Friday November 1, 2013. Retrieved on September 27, 2015.
- https://vimeo.com/143798965 The Dewberry brothers’ case: on the trail of the secrets