Sons of man who died in jail have court date

December 26, 2009 5:02:25 PM PST
Twenty years after their father's death, the sons of a man killed in the Dallas County Jail by another inmate will get their chance to convince a jury that the county failed to protect him. Charles Ray Sempe went to jail in 1990 on a misdemeanor drug charge and was killed minutes later when he was struck by another inmate after he changing TV channels. Chris and Carl Sempe filed a state civil-rights lawsuit against the county in 2000. After a long-running legal fight, they will finally get their day in court in February, The Dallas Morning News reported.

The case is being closely watched by other Texas counties.

Sempe, 30, was arrested on a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge in Lancaster. When he couldn't afford his $200 bond, he was placed in a holding tank with 46 other men, including felons, records show. The tank's capacity was 24 inmates.

Darrell Keith Hartfield was convicted of second-degree murder in Sempe's death and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He served about a year and a half of that sentence before he was released on parole; he later returned to prison for violating parole conditions.