Prosecutors said Wednesday that they plan to seek charges against an inmate in the Maine State Prison who is accused of killing another prisoner.

Maine State Police say Guy Hunnewell, 42, attacked Alan Powell Jr., killing him.

Hunnewell is serving 40 years for killing his girlfriend. Powell was serving a life sentence for raping, stabbing and strangling a Waterville woman in 1989.

Powell’s body was found at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday. State police detectives spent the night interviewing the prison’s staff and inmates.

Deputy Attorney General William Stokes said there is no need to arrest and charge Hunnewell immediately because there is no concern that he will flee or commit new crimes.

The case will be presented to a Knox County grand jury in July.

Hunnewell allegedly attacked Powell in an outdoor exercise area at the state’s high-security prison in Warren. State police spokesman Stephen McCausland would not say what led to the incident or whether a weapon was involved.

Stokes said at least one of the men was getting services from the prison’s mental health unit, but he was not sure which one or whether the prisoner was housed in the unit.

Asked what led to the dispute between the two men, Stokes said he would not characterize it as a dispute.

“It’s unclear what prompted this, if anything,” Stokes said.

It’s not clear whether the exercise area is within the mental health unit. A Department of Corrections spokesman said no additional details were being released on the incident.

The state medical examiner is scheduled to conduct an autopsy on Powell.

Powell confessed to murdering Martha Daigle in June 1989 at an apartment house that Waterville residents called the Bee Hive, at the corner of Elm Street and Western Avenue.

Daigle, 64, was stabbed repeatedly in the groin, raped and strangled.

Powell had served about 22 years of a life sentence for murder.

In the past five years, two inmates in Maine have died after altercations with other prisoners.

Franklin Higgins, who is serving 45 years for murder, was acquitted by a Knox County jury in March in the death of Lloyd Millett in 2011.

Higgins’ lawyer said Millett was part of an extortion ring that threatened other prisoners with violence. Millett raped and murdered two women in 1995 and was serving a life sentence.

The state prosecutor said at the time that it was important to pursue charges against Higgins even though he was not due to be released until he was 75, because it showed the law applies to everyone equally.

John Thibeault of Orono has been charged in the 2009 death of Sheldon Weinstein, who was serving two years for sexual assault against a child. A trial is scheduled for October.

Judy Garvey of the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition said inmate-on-inmate violence is a concern for the prisoners’ rights group.

“We keep saying, over and over, the solutions needed are more programs and more jobs and things to occupy the prisoners’ day, as well as sufficient mental health and chemical addiction treatment,” Garvey said. “When that happens in a prison system, then people have goals and hope and have more of a vision for their own lives so they can turn their lives around.”

Garvey said the system has made significant improvements in its supervision of inmates with mental illness in the past couple of years.

She said she had no direct knowledge about Powell’s death.

 

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com