By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
A state inmate who was sentenced in 2019 to life in prison without parole for the 2013 murder of an Atmore woman, was recently found dead in his prison cell.
A spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) said there are no indications that the death of Collis McCaster, a former resident of Castleberry, was due to anything other than natural causes.
“Collis McCaster, a 48-year-old inmate who was serving a life sentence for murder out of Escambia County at Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer, was found deceased in his cell on May 9, 2021,” said ADOC’s Kristi Simpson. “There is no evidence of trauma or foul play.”
According to Al.com, the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office reported that McCaster was found unresponsive in his private cell by correctional officers and was pronounced dead on the scene at 8:45 a.m.
Simpson said an autopsy would be conducted to determine just what killed the convict. Such a move is standard procedure when an inmate or a person in custody of law enforcement dies.
“McCaster’s exact cause of death is pending a full autopsy,” she said. “More information will be available upon the conclusion of the investigation into McCaster’s death.”
The deceased inmate was originally charged with capital murder, first-degree arson and first-degree sexual abuse in the slaying of 60-year-old Mildred Jackson Morris, who was strangled to death.
The local woman’s body was found, her hands tied behind her back, on a couch inside her Adams Street home when firefighters responded to a blaze there at about 5:20 a.m. on June 8, 2013.
McCaster, who already had a two-decade long criminal record when he was arrested just hours later, confessed to the crime. In 2019 he was allowed to plead guilty to a charge of simple murder in exchange for a sentence of life without parole.
The confessed killer told authorities he had been smoking Spice when he brought three rocks of crack cocaine to Morris. An argument erupted between them after Morris smoked all the crack without sharing it with him, then threw a can of beer at him when he couldn’t produce more.
He also admitted to throwing a lantern, used to heat the crack, onto the couch, which then caught fire.