Potential witness in Vaughn murder trial dies in prison
A 49-year-old inmate, who was a potential witness in the ongoing murder trial of a Delaware correctional officer, has died.
A Delaware Department of Correction spokeswoman would not provide Luis Cabrera's manner of death and would say only that the convicted double-murderer died while in the infirmary at Howard Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington.
In a statement, DOC spokeswoman Jayme Gravell said Cabrera was pronounced dead at 4:54 a.m. Thursday – one day after his birthday.
"Cabrera’s body was turned over to the State Division of Forensic Science, as is standard procedure," the statement said. "Foul play is not suspected."
Cabrera was an inmate housed in Building C during the Feb. 1, 2017, takeover at Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna. He was also a potential witness for the state, which is prosecuting 16 inmates charged in the killing of Lt. Steven Floyd during the takeover.
Three of the 16 inmates are currently being tried in New Castle County Superior Court.
During Thursday's hearings, the jury heard from Dr. Gary Collins, the state's chief medical examiner who autopsied Floyd. Although Collins did not know precisely when Floyd died during the 18-hour siege, he said earlier medical attention could have saved him.
State prosecutors have called a number of inmates to the stand in the trial, which is in its third week. Cabrera, given his housing in Building C during the riot, was a potential witness to what occurred during the siege and could have been summoned to testify.
Cabrera was also a defendant in a class action lawsuit filed last week that accused correctional officers and law enforcement of beating and torturing inmates in the wake of the riot.
His name is mentioned in at least three locations throughout the lawsuit filed by Dover attorney Stephen Hampton against state and DOC officials. Cabrera told the attorney that he was assaulted by correctional officers during the takeover and had his property destroyed.
He was then moved to the Secure Housing Unit, like many of the other men living in Building C at the time of the riot, where he said he said he received little medical treatment for injuries sustained as the riot came to an end, according to the lawsuit.
How and why he was moved to Young Correctional Institution was not released, though many inmates were moved to the New Castle County facility ahead of the criminal trial.
Cabrera was once assigned to Delaware's death row, but because the Delaware Supreme Court found the death penalty to be unconstitutional, he was resentenced earlier this year for the murders of Brandon Saunders and Vaughn Rowe, who were found shot to death in a park 22 years ago.
Contact Esteban Parra at (302) 324-2299, email@example.com or Twitter @eparra3. Contact Brittany Horn at (302) 324-2771 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @brittanyhorn.