6th killing at Sterling prison prompts review; 2 suspects ID'd in death of inmate Cody Gray

STERLING, Colo. - The head of Colorado's prison system wants an in-depth review of the Sterling Correctional Facility following the killing of an inmate there this week.

Cody Gray's death was the sixth homicide in the prison, the state's largest, since 2010. The 32-year-old was serving a life sentence for convictions in Mesa County on charges including sexual assault, drug abuse and burglary.

Sources told the CALL7 Investigators that the suspects in the killing are 24-year-old Thomas Johns, who is serving a life sentence for murder out of Jefferson County, and 35-year-old Robert Sprowls, who is serving a 48-year sentence for attempted murder out of Arapahoe County.

Both suspects are known prison gang members in the Colorado DOC system, according to CALL7 sources.

The executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, Rick Raemisch, said he wants to look beyond who did what to Gray in this case and look at how the prison operates, including how prisoners are classified. His predecessor, Tom Clements, also ordered a review of the prison in 2011.

"It's a high number," Jacobson told the Denver Post, referring to the six deaths. "We'll look at whether there is an issue at Sterling. Or if it is related to the prison's size."

Regarding guard and employee safety, Jacobson told 7NEWS, "Our employees and our offenders want to be safe and we take safety very seriously. Everyone deserves to feel and be safe in their environment and an event like this certainly causes that feeling of safety to be shaken. Any time that there is an incident in one of our facilities, we conduct a thorough review of applicable policies and procedures in order to take as many active steps as possible to prevent the likelihood of reoccurrence. We will do so in this case but at this time, it's too early to define exactly what may be the lasting impact."

Gray, Sprowls and Johns were at the next to highest security level in the prison system. Only maximum-security offenders in 23-hour lockdown are in a higher level of security, according the newspaper.

All three were what's known as "close custody offenders." According to Colorado Department of Corrections policy, close custody offenders are allowed "unrestrained and unescorted movement ... both inside and outside of the living unit."

They also get a minimum of six hours of out of cell time each day for work, meals, education, use of the library, showers and recreational activities.

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