Man accused of beating fellow inmate to death in state prison

Thomas Mercado charged with 2nd-degree murder

PUEBLO, Colo. - A man accused of beating a fellow inmate to death at a state prison in Buena Vista has been charged with second-degree murder.

The Pueblo Chieftain reports ( ) prosecutors charged 23-year-old Thomas Mercado on Tuesday for the death of 22-year-old Gene Casados Jr. last March. Mercado and 36-year-old Phillip Saldana are accused of kicking Casados in the head and body while he was prone on the floor.

Casados died of his injuries in December.

Saldana is in prison because he shot then-16-year-old Casados in the leg in 2009, allegedly because he was wearing rival gang attire on Pueblo's East Side. Saldana has been serving a 16-year sentence for the shooting.

Mercado, who has since been released from prison, remains at the Chaffee County jail on $1 million bail.

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