Lufkin man sentenced to life for murder charged with assault for jail beating

Lufkin man sentenced to life for murder charged with assault for jail beating
Julious Griffin (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Julious Griffin (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Jordan Freeman (Angelina County Jail)
Jordan Freeman (Angelina County Jail)

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A Lufkin man who was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for the June 12, 2013 shooting death of Albert Hodge, 60, has also charged with aggravated assault in connection to allegations that he and two men beat up another jail inmate so severely he suffered a broken jaw on Dec. 1.

Rakeem Rhodes, 23, appeared in Judge Bob Inselmann's 217th Judicial District Court for a sentencing hearing Wednesday. Inselmann's sentence came on the heels of a pre-sentencing investigation.

Back in October, an Angelina County jury found Rhodes not guilty of the original charge, which was capital murder. However, they did find him guilty of the lesser charge of first-degree murder. Rhodes was originally charged with capital murder because he robbed Hodge in addition to shooting him six times.
Following the judge reading his sentencing decision, Rhodes was visibly angry, and he directed profanities at the judge. However, earlier in the sentencing portion of trial it began with news that Rhodes's attorney John Tunnel said he was just made aware of.

"I was informed of an aggravated assault that happened in the jail, another charge that has been added to my client. I feel this is something I need to look into before we proceed," Tunnel said.

Rhodes was charged with aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury for his part in the alleged assault, according to court records.

According to the arrest affidavit, jail staff told the supervisor of the Angelina County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigation Division about an assault that had occurred at the jail on Dec. 1. The jail's assistant warden told the ACSO sergeant that the victim was at CHI St. Luke's Health Memorial Hospital awaiting release from jail, so he could be taken to UTMB in Galveston for a higher level of care for his broken jaw.

The assistant warden also identified Rhodes, Julious Jamal Griffin, 18, of Lufkin, and Jordan Deunte Freeman, 19, of Apple Springs, as the suspects in the brutal assault, the affidavit stated.

According to the surveillance footage the assistant warden pulled for the ACSO sergeant, the incident occurred at about 7:22 p.m. on Dec. 1, the affidavit stated.

When the sergeant watched the footage, he saw Rhodes sitting in a chair in the jail's visitation area. He was then seen getting up and walking toward other inmates and speaking to them, the affidavit stated.

At that point, the three suspects attacked another inmate, punching and kicking him repeatedly.

"The assault occurred very quickly, approximately thirty seconds, before the three suspects returned to their seats in the visitation area," the affidavit stated.

The assistant warden told the ACSO sergeant that Rhodes, Griffin, and Freeman had been telling the people they were talking to on the visitation telephones that they were about to assault someone.

"Rakeem's mother was telling Rakeem to 'just wait' until after his pre-sentencing investigation was completed due to him being found guilty of an unrelated offense," the affidavit stated.

The CID sergeant assigned another detective to go to the hospital to speak to the inmate that had allegedly been assaulted.

After speaking to the injured inmate, the detective reported that the inmate told her Rhodes had been harassing him for months due to an unrelated incident, the affidavit stated. Rhodes allegedly told the other inmate that he would kill him if he ever got out of jail and that he was going to "get the other inmate in the jail if he ever got the chance, the affidavit stated.

The injured inmate told the ACSO detective that he had been in visitation with the three suspects on the night of the alleged assault. He said they were all in the gym before they went to visitation and Rhodes told him, "I'm going to get you as soon as we are out of visitation," the affidavit stated.

The injured inmate told the detective that he was on the phone with a family member when Rhodes walked toward him and said, "I told you I'm going to get you," the affidavit stated.

The inmate told the detective that he yelled, "What are you doing? Get back."

According to the affidavit, the injured inmate told the detective that Rhodes started punching him in the face before he could do anything, adding that he was able to block most of them before Griffin and Freeman ran up to help Rhodes.

The three suspects allegedly forced the other inmate to the ground and started raining a flurry of punches and kicks on him. The inmate told the ACSO sergeant that Rhodes kicked him in the side of the face at one point during the assault, breaking his jaw, the affidavit stated.

After feeling the pain his face, the injured inmate was able push away from them and stand up. At that point, he ran for the call button on the wall and asked for the jail staff to come help him, the affidavit stated. As soon as he did so, Rhodes, Griffin, and Freeman ran to the other end of the visitation room and "sat down as if they did nothing wrong."

The injured inmate was unable to open his mouth as he spoke to the ACSO sergeant and told her that he had swallowed enough blood the night before that he started throwing up, the affidavit stated. He also said that he thought that the medical staff at the Galveston hospital would have to wire his jaw shut.

The affidavit stated that all three suspects in the assault admitted to beating up the other inmate in written statements. However, they also said they did so because the other inmate exposed his genitals to them at one point and they thought it was "disrespectful," the affidavit stated.

East Texas law enforcement authorities tracked Rhodes down at an apartment at Oakhill Plaza Drive on June 24, 2013. Deputies from the Nacogdoches Sheriff's Office and a U.S. marshal surrounded the building, and Rhodes was taken into custody without further incident.

According to the affidavit, two LPD officers responded to a 911 call about shots fired at a residence in the 700 block of Weaver Street late in the evening of June 12.

When the LPD officers arrived on the scene, they found the home's front door standing open. One of the officers found Hodge lying on the floor with several obvious wounds to his face, chest, and arms.

"Hodge was gasping for air and appeared incoherent," the affidavit stated.

Rhodes has had numerous run ins with the law, dating back to 2010, when Rhodes was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for punching two women with a pair of brass knuckles. His other arrests and charges include burglary of a habitation, evading arrest and failure to identify.

Griffin was being held in the Angelina County jail on a sexual assault of a child charge in connection to allegations that he sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl back in May and gave her gonorrhea.

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