After deliberating just 30 minutes Thursday, a Lincoln County jury sentenced a prison inmate already serving a sentence of life without parole to death in the slaying of another inmate.
Robert Holland, now 45, was convicted of capital murder in the Dec. 2, 2012, death of Matthew Scheile, 22, in a cell in the east building at Cummins Prison.
Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter said Friday that because the death of Scheile was “so premeditated,” the state decided to give the jury the option of imposing the death penalty, which they did.
According to the State Police investigation, Holland, who was convicted of capital murder in Union County in 1991, was housed in a two-man cell at the prison and had previously refused to accept a cellmate, which resulted in disciplinary actions. Holland finally agreed to allow another person in the cell with him, and Scheile was killed about 12 hours after he was put in the cell with Holland.
Hunter said Holland waited until Scheile was asleep before making a noose out of a bed sheet and strangling Scheile, and when Holland was questioned, he admitted the crime.
Hunter said jury selection, which began Tuesday, took two days before a jury of seven women and five men were seated, and the trial itself was completed in one day.
The jury took about 20 minutes to find Holland guilty of capital murder.
Hunter said the death penalty was the first that has been imposed in the 11th West Judicial District since Kenneth Williams was sentenced to death in the 1999 death of Cecil Boren outside Cummins Prison after Williams had escaped from prison. Williams is still on death row.
“The legislature is going to have to fix the execution procedures before anybody is executed,” Hunter said.
Hunter and Chief Deputy Prosecutor Wayne Juneau represented the state, while John Cone and Rebekah Kennedy of the Public Defender’s Office represented Holland. Circuit Judge Rob Wyatt Jr. presided at the trial.