Byron Looper assaulted prison counselor before death - WSMV Channel 4

Byron Looper assaulted prison counselor before death

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Byron Looper was found dead inside his prison cell on June 26. Byron Looper was found dead inside his prison cell on June 26.
Tennessee State Sen. Tommy Burks Tennessee State Sen. Tommy Burks
WARTBURG, TN (WSMV) -

Multiple state sources tell Channel 4 News that before he was found dead Wednesday, Byron Looper assaulted a prison counselor and later taken to an isolation unit called behavioral management. 

Looper was then pronounced dead at 11:10 a.m. ET after being found unresponsive inside his cell at the Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg, TN.

Byron Looper, 48, was convicted of killing Tennessee State Sen. Tommy Burks in 1998.

Looper had been serving a maximum sentence of life without parole for the 1998 first-degree murder of Burks.

Commissioner Derrick Schofield has requested the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation assume the lead in the investigation into Looper's death, which is somewhat routine involving high-profile inmates.

An autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of Looper's death, but we're told that, at this time, there's no reason to suspect foul play.

He had spent almost his entire 14 years behind bars at the Morgan County prison. In fact, he had become known around the prison as an inmate lawyer, helping other inmates file lawsuits from behind bars.

At the time of the Oct. 19, 1998, murder, Looper was the Republican nominee against Burks, a Democrat, in the November 1998 election.

Looper went on to lose the November 1998 election to Charlotte Burks, Tommy Burks's wife, after a write-in campaign. Charlotte Burks still represents the district in the state senate.

Looper, who legally changed his name to Byron (Low Tax) Looper, was elected property assessor for Putnam County in 1996.

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