PHOENIX - An inmate accused of fatally beating and stabbing his cellmate in a Phoenix-area jail told investigators that he heard voices just before the attack telling him "it's either him or me," according to police reports.
The reports quote Andrew Ward, who was in jail on charges of killing his 12-year-old half brother. According to the reports, Ward said cellmate Douglas Walker had challenged him to a fight and he heard a voice saying, "It's a death warrant; it's either him or me."
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against the 27-year-old in the April 2 death of Walker and the March 12 fatal stabbing of his half-brother, Austin Tapio .
Ward is accused of stabbing Walker's eyes with pencils, trying to cut his throat with a hard plastic card and blocking his breathing passages by jamming a plastic bag containing a peanut butter sandwich down his throat. Investigators said Ward confessed to the killing.
Ward has pleaded not guilty to murder charges in the deaths of Walker and his young relative. He is undergoing mental health examinations to determine whether he is fit to stand trial.
Ward's attorney, Marci Kratter, declined to comment on the reports, which were released this week in response to a public records request.
Investigators say Ward explained his motive in his half brother's death by saying, "Honestly, I just felt like killing."
A review by The Associated Press of more than 700 pages of police reports shows that a few inmates believed Ward had some sort of mental health issue and Walker had been trying to move to another cell. The inmates also believed jailers were putting patients with psychological issues together with patients who didn't have mental health problems.
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that health privacy laws prevent it from publicly discussing Ward's mental health but the office has a policy of putting in isolation inmates who are determined to be a danger to themselves or others. The agency said Ward gave no such indications of immediate danger.
"If he was not actively making statements or physically showing signs of being a danger to himself or others, he would not be placed in isolation as there is no reason to justify it," the agency said in statement.
A day after Walker's death, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said that despite Ward's alleged indifference in the killing of his half brother, psychiatric experts had evaluated him when he was brought to jail and cleared him.
"We have about 400 alleged murderers in our jails," the sheriff had said. "Do you think I have room to give every alleged murderer a private room? No."
Joel Robbins, an attorney representing Walker's family, said the sheriff's office had no business giving Ward a cellmate, considering his recent history of violence.
"That's a guy who gets his own cell," Robbins said. "You could grouse about him getting special treatment, but that is a guy who needs special treatment."
Walker, 33, had been in custody since November and was awaiting sentencing after he pleaded guilty to armed robbery.
In mid-January, an inmate at the same jail was fatally beaten and stabbed with a small pencil.