Cop’s killer dies in prison while on suicide watch, attorney says

Credit: File Photo

Credit: File Photo

A man serving life behind bars for fatally shooting a Georgia police officer killed himself in prison on Thanksgiving despite being placed on suicide watch, according to his attorney.

Seth Brandon Spangler, who earlier this year pleaded guilty to the murder of Polk County Detective Kristen Hearne, died Nov. 24, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Corrections confirmed.

The state agency released few details about what happened at Augusta State Medical Prison, citing an ongoing investigation into the prisoner’s death.

“Details of the death are under investigation, as standard procedure, therefore we have no additional details to provide,” Joan Heath wrote in an email.

Spangler’s attorney, Jerry Word, said his client had recently been transferred to Augusta from Telfair State Prison and was being held in the crisis management unit at the time of his death.

“What we don’t know is why someone on suicide watch was still able to kill themselves in the Augusta State Prison,” he said Tuesday.

The GBI was asked to perform Spangler’s autopsy.

Spangler avoided the death penalty in March by pleading guilty to Hearne’s murder in exchange for a sentence of life in prison.

ExploreGeorgia cop’s killer pleads guilty to murder, avoids death penalty

Spangler shot the 29-year-old detective four times on Sept. 29, 2017, as Hearne and a rookie officer responded to a call about a car reported stolen on a dirt road in Cedartown.

Hearne, who grew up in Polk County and graduated from Rockmart High School, wasn’t wearing her bulletproof vest due to the seemingly routine nature of the call, officials said. The first female Polk County officer killed in the line of duty had a husband and a young son.

In the days that followed, her family and friends said she died doing what she loved and remembered her as a hero.

Credit: � 2017 Cox Media Group.

Credit: � 2017 Cox Media Group.

Officer David Goodrich was wearing a vest, which saved his life, police said.

ExploreWith detective shot dead on dirt road, a tiny county’s reality reels

Spangler and another suspect, Samantha Roof, escaped on foot after the double shooting, but then-GBI Director Vernon Keenan said Roof didn’t get far.

Spangler stayed on the run for hours, setting off a massive manhunt that included the first-ever use of Georgia’s Blue Alert, an emergency call put out by local law enforcement after the shooting of an officer.

Roof was sentenced to prison this year for involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault on a peace officer, online records show. She isn’t eligible for parole until 2027.