SBI investigating inmate's death in Greene County

Staff writerSeptember 8, 2010 

Charles E. Branch, 40, died while in custody at a state prison in Greene County.

N.C. DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION

— Agents from the State Bureau of Investigation were called to a maximum security prison in Greene County this week to investigate a possible homicide.

Inmate Charles E. Branch, 40, was found unresponsive in his cell early Monday morning at Maury Correctional Institution. He was transported to a hospital in Greenville, where he was pronounced dead.

Keith Acree, spokesman for the N.C. Department of Correction, said the circumstances of the death are “suspicious.” An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death. SBI agents have been at the prison since Monday, Acree said.

Maury, which opened in 2006, is a 1,000-cell, close-security prison for male inmates near the town of Hookerton in Greene County.

Acree said investigators are focusing on whether another inmate was involved in Branch’s death.

“We have no reason to believe any staff were involved,” Acree said.

Branch, who was from Johnston County, was sentenced in March to serve more than eight years for convictions as a habitual felon and for driving while intoxicated. His prison record lists one rules infraction in June for committing a sexual act.

michael.biesecker@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4698

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