Two face charges over Henry Co. inmate beating death

HENRY COUNTY, Ind. -- Two men are facing charges for beating another inmate to death earlier this year.

Brian Gosser died in March after the attacks at the Henry County Jail in late February. Jail staff moved Gosser from one cell to another as the victim of beating after beating.

His death is part of a string of problems at the facility.

“The main issue, for me anyways, is the jail,” said Henry County Commissioner Butch Baker.

Baker used to be the county sheriff.

“I was able to add additional beds to the existing space, so everyone could actually have a bed and we ended up with 110 beds,” said Baker.

As of Wednesday morning though, baker said the list showed 119 inmates. The jail is, once again, over capacity.

Baker believes the lack of room, beds and jail staff have led to some of the various problems at the jail.

In August, a group of inmates set fire to this jail cell in an escape attempt. The next day, a different group started a second fire. And today, prosecutors charged 48-year-old David Mettert and 35-year-old Justin Fannin, already serving time, with beating another inmate to death.

“We need to do everything, anything we can to minimize those types of incidents that take place,” said Baker.

From his experience as sheriff, Baker feels sure a new jail and more staff would solve some of the issues.

“Is it going to eliminate it?” asks Baker rhetorically. “No. Can it make it easier to deal with as far as being able to control the inmates? Yes.”

But he acknowledges a new jail won’t fix every problem. He notes that a nearby state prison is modernized and has also had inmates killed by others.

And building a new jail would cost a lot of money and it’s money the county doesn’t have right now.

That could prove a tough hurdle as in the past, elected officials have been unwilling to even pay for all the additional staff a past study showed the jail needed.

A new county criminal justice study is just getting underway. Baker hopes this time around the county will be able to follow the experts’ recommendations.

“If there’s an actual study that’s conducted and at the conclusion of that study, the experts say this is what you need and why you need it, then hopefully the county at that point in time will start looking at ways and different avenues to achieve those outcomes,” said Baker.

The study, will look at the jail, courts, prosecution, community corrections and law enforcement.

Baker says looking at the whole process is critical, so the new jail doesn’t end up overcrowded with inmates just like this one.

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