Prison inmate cleared of murder

Walter Hardy

VALDOSTA — A prisoner accused of killing another inmate at Valdosta State Prison has been cleared by a grand jury, according to court records.

Walter Hardy, 39, had been accused of killing inmate Anthony Lamar Hann Jr. in August 2017, said District Attorney Brad Shealy.

The Lowndes County Grand Jury “no billed” Hardy — meaning it didn’t find enough evidence to warrant a full trial — according to an indictment list released May 31.

Hann, 29, was found unresponsive in his cell around 9:30 p.m. Aug. 14, 2017, and was pronounced dead 30 minutes later, according to a statement from the Georgia Department of Corrections. 

Shealy said Hardy had been involved in two altercations with Hann. In the first, Hardy struck Hann in self-defense; in the later incident, when Hardy faced Hann along with a crowd of other inmates, Hann was stabbed, the district attorney said.

Video shows Hann walking back to his room, Shealy said.

The cause of death was a crushed neck, he said.

“We don’t know if (the crushed neck) occurred at the original altercation or if someone came into Hann’s room later,” Shealy said. “There was no definitive evidence as to who killed him.”

Along with the murder charge, Hardy was “no billed” for aggravated assault and unauthorized possession of a weapon by an inmate, the indictment list shows.

Shealy said the “no bills” are the end of the line for the criminal aspects of the case, though Hann’s family could still sue the prison system in civil court.

Hardy — also known by the nickname “Black Lion” — is still in prison, Shealy said. He is serving a 20-year sentence for a a 2006 aggravated assault in Clayton County, and had also been sentenced to lesser terms for obstruction of an officer and possession of a firearm during a crime, prison records show. 

Hann had been convicted of robbery in Clayton County and was serving a 20-year sentence, according to prison officials.

Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.

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