By Lance Lowry
Lubbock, Texas - The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Office of Inspector General is investigating the death of a 63 year old psychiatric inmate after he refused orders to be removed from his cell at the John Montford Prison Psychiatric Unit in Lubbock.
Sometime during the daytime of March 19, 2014, correctional staff attempted to remove Benjamin McCoin, from his cell at the Montford Unit. McCoin refused orders from correctional staff to be removed from his cell. A 5 man extraction team was sent into the cell to remove McCoin, who was immediately examined by nursing staff and placed in another cell.
While in his newly assigned cell, McCoin complained to staff about a pain in his hip and was taken to the University Medical Center in Lubbock for observation. That afternoon while at the hospital McCoin collapsed and immediate efforts by hospital staff to revive him failed. McCoin was pronounced dead at 5:50 PM.
McCoin was no stranger to the criminal justice system. McCoin exhibited a history of violence and psychiatric episodes. On October 22, 1985 McCoin committed an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and was convicted of the crime in Lamar County on February 7, 1986, when he was sentenced to 2 years in the Texas Department of Corrections.
Upon making parole from the Texas Department of Corrections, McCoin returned to Lamar County where on October 31, 1986 he committed his second aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. This time McCoin was handed down a 10 year sentence on January 12, 1987.
With a shortage of prison beds in the Texas Department of Corrections in the mid 80's and early 90's, making parole was easy, even for some of the most violent inmates. Parole came early for McCoin who left the prison system and in 1992 became a ranch hand in Red River County.
Life as a ranch hand gave McCoin access to the tools of the trade. In East Texas beaver dams are a big problem. The mud and stick compounds used by beavers can form a structure that can not be removed by hand implements and may be in marsh land that is not easily accessible for earth moving equipment. McCoin, who was a violent convicted felon, was given access to dynamite to take down beaver dams on the property.
McCoin was infatuated with his ex-wife Jeanette White. McCoin allegedly became verbally abusive towards Jeanette and allegedly threatened her. Jeanette reported the incident to Red River law enforcement.
On September 14, 1992, McCoin learned that Red River law enforcement were looking for him after a warrant was issued for his arrest. Law enforcement officers went to the ranch looking for McCoin, but were unable to locate him that day. McCoin knew he would most likely return to prison for the third time, since he was still on parole for his second aggravated assault.
Revenge May Not be so Sweet in Texas
While hiding from the law, McCoin devised a plan to seek revenge for his ex-wife filing charges that would most likely mean his return to prison. McCoin having learned how to use explosives to take out beaver dams, decided now to use the explosives to take out his ex-wife Jeanette White.
McCoin keeping with his promise of revenge and violence against Jeanette, on the night of September 15, 1992 placed dynamite under the bedroom of Jeanette and her current husband Mitchell White. McCoin lit the fuse on several sticks of dynamite below the floor of the trailer house.
The dynamite was detonated under the corner of the Whites' bed, turning it over and knocking both of them nearly out of harm's way from flying shrapnel and wooden debris from where the bomb was set under the floor of their trailer house.
Once the dust cleared it was determined, Mitchell suffered several broken ribs; Jeanette suffered minor injuries. The child, McCoin's eldest son, suffered cuts and scrapes and broken glass embedded in his legs and feet caused by running barefoot to his mother's room to determine whether she was injured.
McCoin's life on the land quickly came to an end, now facing federal explosives charges. Two days later McCoin was arrested and now faced felony possession of explosives charges. After the bombing, psychiatrists appointed by former East Texas federal judge William Wayne Justice ruled McCoin incompetent to stand trial. McCoin spent the last six years at a federal mental institute, and was judged competent to returned to Texas in 1999.
McCoin was re-indicted on state charges of attempted capitol murder on October 14, 1999. During his trial in Red River County, McCoin attempted to represent himself at trial and at one point was removed from the courtroom during pretrial motions where he rushed 102nd District Court Judge John F. Miller Jr.'s bench in a confrontational manner. Red River County Sheriff Chief Deputy Larry Spangler and Deputy Terry Reed briefly struggled with McCoin who was carried out of the courtroom by the deputies.
A Red River County Jury quickly found McCoin guilty during his trial and sentenced him to 99 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. McCoin would later attempt to appeal his case claiming to not have been competent to waive counsel.
McCoin while in federal custody had spent several years in a prison psychiatric facility at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners (MCFP), in Springfield, Missouri until 1999. McCoin's violent psychiatric episodes continued while incarcerated in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. January of 2014, McCoin was transferred by Texas prison officials to the Montford Prison Psychiatric facility which became his prison of final destination.
McCoin's death after his confrontation at the 94 treatment bed facility will remain under investigation by the Texas authorities. At this time it is believed McCoin's death is the result of heart failure, but an autopsy is pending in the final cause of death. His madness may have been his final demise.
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