Charges have been made and upgraded against a Harris County inmate, Michael Paul Ownby, accused of brutally beating his cellmate, Fred Harris, a teen with special needs.
Michael Paul Ownby, 25, was initially charged with aggravated assault with severe bodily injury after the incident. He is accused of murder in the death of Fred Harris, 19.
According to court documents, on Oct. 29, Ownby allegedly struck inmate Harris in the head with his foot, smashed his head numerous times on the concrete floor, and stabbed him to death with a “sharpened eating utensil.” Harris was only 98 pounds at the time of his death, with Ownby weighing 240 pounds.
Harris, who had an IQ of 62, was considered “brain dead” after allegedly being beaten and stabbed. He was pronounced dead two days later at Ben Taub Hospital.
His family attorney, Randall Kallinen, says his death would have been preventable. Kallinen said inmates and staff at the jail are at high risk because of overcrowding and staffing issues. He is calling on the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and the Harris County Commissioners Court to release evidence video of how the fight happened.
“Sheriff Gonzalez and the Harris County Commissioners Court have put inmates and staff at high risk due to failure to address problems at the Harris County Jail,” Attorney Kallinen says. “This is bound to happen again unless we get the evidence.”
Harris was initially arrested for allegedly intimidating a store associate with a knife near a smoke shop in Montrose, Texas. He was later charged with aggravated assault. The family attorney said the teen had never been in trouble before and was a well-liked special education student at Stratford High School.
Attorney Kallinen says Harris’ heart and organs were donated as a way “to help others.”
We are sending our prayers to the family of this tragic incident.