The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 23, 2014

Update: Security Hospital inmate killed by another

The Mankato Free Press

---- — ST. PETER — A man released from prison in 2013 after serving 20 years for beating a man to death during a 1991 Mankato burglary was allegedly killed by a fellow inmate Wednesday at Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter.

St. Peter police were sent to the hospital at about 8 p.m. after receiving a report that Michael Francis Douglas, 41, of Mankato had been severely beaten by another inmate. Douglas died while being treated by paramedics from River's Edge Hospital's ambulance service, police said.

Darnell Dee Whitefeather, 41, was arrested at the Security Hospital and taken to the Nicollet County Jail. Murder charges are being requested, the release said. Both men had been committed to the hospital late last year.

Douglas was committed as mentally ill and dangerous by Blue Earth County District Court Judge Krista Jass in December after a series of incidents, including threats to kill someone. Whitefeather was committed as mentally ill in October after a judge in Beltrami County found he has paranoid schizophrenia and had been aggressive toward jail staff.

A jury found Douglas guilty of murder in April 1992. He and another man beat Keith Pearson to death after Pearson woke up while the men were burglarizing his Mankato home.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was called in to assist with the investigation. The state health department and ombudsman for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled also will be involved.

State Rep. Clark Johnson of North Mankato said he was saddened by the news of the incident, which happened in his legislative district.

“We have to deal with this (facility). We need to get to the bottom of how to address safety at this location,” Johnson said. “There were concerns before the incident. The physical place itself is not safe. There are problems with blind spots in halls.”

He said the state should vigorously pursue a high-profile investigation of the cause of the incident and act immediately to address any problems. He also called for action on safety concerns that already exist with the facility.

“This needs to be one of the top priorities in the state. The safety for the patients and the people working there has to be the supreme priority,” Johnson said. “I feel a lot of (the ongoing issues) broke apart last night. This is not simple stuff. But we need to act.”

He also called for support of Dayton's bonding proposal of $56 million to reconstruct Security Hospital.