Inmate who pleaded guilty in Vaughn riot found dead

DOVER — A 30-year-old inmate who pleaded guilty this week to charges related to the February 2017 riot at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center has died, prison officials said.

Kelly Gibbs, who was incarcerated at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington, was pronounced dead at 2:45 a.m. Thursday.

He is the second inmate connected to the Vaughn riot to die unexpectedly this month. The other, Luis Cabrera, died Nov. 8.

Prison officials said foul play was not suspected in either death.

Gibbs, of Wilmington, was serving a 24-year, nine-month sentence for murder in the second degree, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, assault second degree and promoting prison contraband.

His sentence became effective Sept. 8, 2008.

Kelly Gibbs

Earlier this week he pleaded guilty to charges of riot, kidnapping and conspiracy in connection with the Feb. 1-2, 2017, siege at Vaughn, the state’s largest maximum security correctional center, near Smyrna. Sentencing in that case was pending.

Luis Cabrera, 49, an inmate also housed at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington, according to court documents, was both a potential witness in the Vaughn trial and one of more than 100 inmate plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit filed against the state this month alleging mistreatment by prison staff.

Cabrera was serving three life sentences plus an additional 44 years for three counts of first degree murder and related charges.

Delaware State Police are continuing to investigate Gibbs’ death, according to a news release from the Department of Correction.

Gibbs’ body was turned over to the State Division of Forensic Science, as is standard procedure, the release stated.

On Tuesday, after a nearly five-week trial, a jury issued verdicts for the first three of the 18 inmates charged with perpetrating the Vaughn prison riot in which correctional officer Lt. Steven Floyd was found dead.

The jury found Dwayne Staats guilty of all charges except for intentional first-degree murder, Jarreau Ayers guilty of all charges except murder, and Deric Forney not guilty.

Subsequent groups of inmates charged in connection to the takeover of C Building, where Lt. Floyd was killed, will stand trial in the coming months.

All three men tried in October and November stood accused of 11 charges each — three counts of murder related to the death of correctional officer Lt. Floyd, four counts of kidnapping, two counts of assault, riot and conspiracy.


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