A murderer on death row has been found dead three days after a decision to set his execution date.
Stephen Hugueley, 53, who shot his mum dead in 1986, then murdered an inmate in jail before stabbing a prison counsellor to death years later, died behind bars on early Friday morning.
Exactly how he died is yet to be confirmed however Dorinda Carter, a spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Correction, said it appears to have been from natural causes.
Hugueley, 53, was pronounced deceased at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution at 2:35 am, according to the statement.
The Independent reports that Hugueley's lawyer Amy Harwell was notified of his passing by the prison chaplain just before 6 am.
Ms Harwell said: "He had been suicidal for years but TDOC is telling me they do not think it was suicide."
Hugueley was placed on death row in 2003 following the fatal stabbing of prison counsellor Delbert Steed at the Hardeman County Correctional Complex a year earlier.
His death sentence came almost two decades after his life sentence handed to him in August 1986 for killing his mother Rachel Waller with a shotgun. Her body was found dumped in the Forked Deer River which flows through West Tennessee, US.
Within five years at West Tennessee High-Security Prison, Hugueley killed again in 1991, this time a fellow inmate.
The brute Hugueley stabbed another inmate six years later at maximum-security prison, Brushy Mountain.
Hugueley was eventually transferred to the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, The Independent reports.
He spent the last 18 years in solitary confinement.
His attorney Harwell issued a statement, saying Hugueley "entered the Tennessee Department of Correction as a profoundly damaged individual who from his 12th birthday to today spent less than two years outside of an institutional setting.
"He had severely limited interaction with other humans and was systematically denied access to treatment and basic health care."
Harwell added: "Years of this kind of abuse took a tremendous physical and mental toll upon Stephen. That Stephen withstood this treatment for so long is a testament to the strength of his spirit."
Huguely had sued the Correction Department in federal court for his solitary confinement and in a statement sent to the court Tuesday, he accused the department of using his impending execution to either "compel me to commit suicide, like my father," or to "coerce me into settling for less than I want."
The state moved to set his execution date the same day.
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