An inmate who was set to begin trial in connection to a murder that highlighted the importance of witness protection in Chattanooga died of COVID-19 on Labor Day.
Charles Levada Shelton, 31, died at a local hospital after “apparent” complications that started at the Silverdale Detention Center, according to the Hamilton County Sherriff’s Office (HCSO).
READ MORE |UPDATE: Hamilton Co. inmate facing murder trial dies from COVID-19 complications
Shelton was one of three suspects accused of murdering Bianca Horton in 2016.
Just days before she was set to testify against the person who shot her baby daughter, Horton was found dead not too far from her apartment in Chattanooga’s Southside.
The 26-year-old’s death highlighted the importance of witness protection in Chattanooga.
Now with another layer added of COVID-19, victim-witness coordinator Deborah Robinson with the 10th Judicial District says is even more difficult to walk families through.
"It's just painful and it just hurts and that is a part of victimization. While they know that COVID has caused a hardship on our court system as a whole, still it doesn't take away the pain that they are having to ensure because they have to wait," Robinson said.
According to the Hamilton County court docket, the two other suspects in connection to Bianca Horton’s death are in progress: Courtney High's trial is set to start September 20th and Andre Grier's is scheduled to begin on Monday.
An HCSO spokesperson told Channel 3 they have medical personnel who tend to inmates with COVID-19 symptoms but once things get too severe, inmates are then transported to a local medical facility.
Here is the rest of HCSO’s statement:
The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Division is going to great lengths to follow CDC guidelines and sanitize the Silverdale Detention Center on a consistent basis. The Sheriff’s Office is continuing to work with Health Department personnel and our contract in-house medical provider, QCHC, to safeguard the health of our inmates and personnel due to COVID-19.
In addition to following CDC and Health Department protocols, masks and cleaning supplies are available to inmates as requested. Our contract, in-house medical provider QCHC also provides the COVID vaccine to inmates who wish to receive it. Lastly, we are also isolating and quarantining inmates who have been exposed or test positive.
Stay with the WRCB app for updates to this story.