A Lawton inmate who beat his cellmate to death last year has been sentenced to spend 35 more years in prison.
Joseph Palone, 24, appeared in Comanche County District Court Tuesday and pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree manslaughter for beating and strangling 29-year-old Matthew Dorrough to death on Feb. 21.
The state offered Palone, who was scheduled to be tried next week, a 35-year sentence in exchange for a guilty plea; he had been facing a maximum sentence of life in prison, which is calculated at 45 years.
Palone is currently serving 15 years in a 2010 Tulsa County case that includes attempted robbery, discharging a weapon from a vehicle and possession of a firearm after a felony conviction. His manslaughter sentence will begin after he is finished serving time in the previous case.
Emergency responders were first dispatched to the Lawton Correctional Facility, 8607 SE Flower Mound, the day of the Dorrough's death to help a fall victim. However, after Lawton police detectives arrived, they learned Dorrough had not been injured during a fall, but may have been choked to death. An affidavit filed in district court said Dorrough is believed to have physically attacked Palone first, but that Palone's violent response was "perpetrated unnecessarily."
In resisting the assault, Palone struck Dorrough in the head and neck, causing the injuries that resulted in Dorrough's death, the affidavit said. Dorrough was dead in his cell by the time emergency personnel arrived.
Although police said there was no indication the incident was gang related, Palone had multiple tattoos including a shamrock, a swastika and burning lightning bolts that indicated he was affiliated with a white supremacy group.
Dorrough's mother said in a letter to the court that her family, in addition to having difficulty explaining Dorrough's absence to his 5-year-old daughter, had lost faith in the legal system.