ROANOKE, Va. -- A schizophrenic inmate denied extra prescription drugs bashed a jail paramedic to death with a heavy metal oxygen tank, authorities said Wednesday.
Five other prisoners who witnessed the Tuesday night attack through an infirmary window at the Roanoke City Jail told police they could hear Deputy Barry Pendrey, 29, begging ex-Marine Kenny Edmonds to stop hitting him.
But the former mental patient continued to smash the three-foot metal tank into Pendrey's face even after he was unconscious, the inmates said.
'I could hear the tank hitting him -- hard thuds,' said Cindy VanValkenburg, who told UPI she heard the killing over a telephone that was dropped by an inmate friend she had called in the infirmary, 'and I heard him (Pendrey) scream 'Stop, stop.''
Sheriff Alvin Hudson said a second deputy, summoned by prisoners frantically beating on the jail infirmary window, found Edmonds covered in blood.
'The first thing he said was, 'I've hurt a deputy,'' said Hudson.
The other inmates said Edmonds had received prescription medication at 5 p.m., and lost his temper when Pendrey refused his request for additional drugs at 9 p.m.
'It just set off something in this guy,' Hudson said. 'We had never had any trouble from him before.'
Commonwealth's Attorney Don Caldwell said he would present a capital murder indictment to a grand jury scheduled to meet Monday. Edmonds could receive the death penalty if convicted of killing a deputy in the line of duty.
Court records show Edmonds, 35, a welder from South Boston, Va., was discharged from the Marine Corps in 1972 for psychiatric reasons and had recently been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic at Central State Hospital.
He had been jailed without bond to await trial on a malicious wounding charge stemming from the unprovoked stabbing of a bus driver last September.
Court records show Edmonds was receiving a number of powerful tranquilizers on the orders of his psychiatrist while in jail.
Hudson said it was the first time a Roanoke jailer had been fatally assaulted by an inmate.
Edmonds was moved late Wednesday to the Montgomery County Jail for his own protection, authorities said.