CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) – Authorities investigated a Colorado prison inmate from Saudi Arabia in the slaying of the state’s corrections chief, the state’s assistant prison director testified, but they apparently found nothing linking the prisoner to the killing.
The testimony came at a hearing Thursday on a transfer request from Saudi national Homaidan al-Turki (HO’-ma-don al-TUR’-kee), who is seeking to return to his native country to serve the remainder of his sentence after being convicted of sexually assaulting his family housekeeper and keeping her as a virtual slave.
Al-Turki returns to court Friday for closing arguments by his attorneys and by prosecutors, who oppose the transfer.
Thursday’s hearing marked the first time corrections officials publicly acknowledged that al-Turki was investigated in the slaying of Department of Corrections director Tom Clements. Clements was killed in March outside his home about a week after denying an earlier transfer request from al-Turki.
In an April lawsuit, al-Turki alleged that officials improperly leaked word that a “main working theory” in the murder investigation was that Clements was killed in retaliation.
Authorities say former Colorado inmate Evan Ebel was found with a gun that matched the one used to shoot Clements. Ebel, a member of a white supremacist gang, died in a shootout with Texas authorities two days after Clements was killed.
Al-Turki’s lawyers raised the investigation of Clements’ death while questioning Angel Medina, assistant director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, at a hearing on their client’s latest transfer request.
Medina was was not asked whether al-Turki had been formally cleared in the death. But he said no misconduct was reflected on a subsequent assessment of the prisoner.
Medina did not say why al-Turki was investigated.
Paul Hollenbeck, an associate director of the state Corrections Department, testified that Clements was prepared in January to grant al-Turki’s transfer. However, the transfer was denied after an FBI agent contacted the Department of Corrections saying he had information about al-Turki, Hollenbeck said. Hollenbeck didn’t elaborate on what the agent said or why the transfer was denied.
Al-Turki is serving eight years to life in prison after his 2006 conviction on unlawful sexual contact by use of force, false imprisonment and other charges — all in the case involving his housekeeper.
Al-Turki denied the charges, saying he was a victim of anti-Muslim sentiment inflamed by the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Al-Turki has been transferred to a federal prison in Tucson, Ariz., in part because of the “notoriety” of the Clements investigation, Medina said.
By DAN ELLIOTT, Associated Press
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