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North Carolina
Michael F. Easley, Governor           Theodis Beck, Secretary

January 31, 2002
Contact: Superintendent Bill Baker
Avery-Mitchell CI
             (828) 765-0229

Inmate suicide reported at Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution

SPRUCE PINE Inmate John R. Smitherman was found hanging in a cell at Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution today at 4:30 a.m. A correctional officer discovered the inmate during a check that is performed every 30 minutes. Officers immediately began CPR and summoned emergency medical crews.

Smitherman, 45, was pronounced dead at Spruce Pine Community Hospital at 5:38 a.m. His body has been taken to Watauga Medical Center in Boone for an autopsy.

Smitherman was serving a 30-year sentence for first degree burglary. He was convicted in Guilford County in November 1992. His projected release date was June 9, 2005.

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