A truck is used to patrol the grounds of the Federal Correctional Complex Terre Haute on July 25, 2019 in Terre Haute, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
A prison official at the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Institution has been accused of using a burner Twitter account to taunt a man who was recently executed by the federal government, and a lawyer who tried to help his appeal for clemency, according to a defamation lawsuit filed Monday.
Indianapolis attorney Ashley Kincaid Eve is suing Andrew Sutton, whom she names as a former counselor at the Special Confinement Unit of the Indiana prison, for what she says are tweets targeting her and former prisoner Christopher Vialva, who was executed Sept. 24. The suit further alleges that Sutton has been reassigned at the prison because of the social media posts.
Sutton is no longer listed as a counselor on the prison’s website, according to Fox 59, a local news outlet that first reported on the filing. However, Sutton is still referred to as an SCU counselor under the prison’s visiting regulations.
The Terre Haute prison did not return VICE News’ request for comment.
VICE News was not able to reach Andrew Sutton for comment. When contacted by Fox 59, Sutton said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” and then hung up, according to the outlet.
In the lawsuit, Eve alleges that Sutton published several tweets speculating about her motive in assisting Vialva’s legal team, and made light of the prisoner’s final moments. The tweets were sent by a Twitter account that went by the name “fozzythebear,” which no longer exists.
“Eve isn’t on Vialva’s legal team,” reads one of the now-deleted tweets from the fozzythebear account, according to screenshots presented in the lawsuit. “She’s a con-artist looking for 15 minutes of fame from the ‘first black man’ executed in 15 years. She’s using Vialva for her own gain.”
In another tweet nine days before Vialva’s execution, the account wrote that Vialva was “getting exactly what he deserved.”
Quoting a news story detailing Vialva’s death by lethal injection, the fozzythebear account added the hashtag “#hahahaha.”
The lawsuit also alleges that Sutton sent tweets about other inmates scheduled to be executed through the disguised Twitter account.
“Roane, Tipton, and Johnson better be ready,” reads one tweet from the fozzythebear account sent on Aug. 20, referencing James Roane, Richard Tipton, and Cory Johnson. All three men were sentenced to death, and Johnson is scheduled to be executed on Jan. 14.
“Lining them up as they should have been years ago,” the fozzythebear account wrote in a follow-up tweet.
One tweet posted by fozzythebear and included in the lawsuit claimed the account belonged to someone who worked within the prison.
“Having worked at Terre Haute, and spending 10 years in the Special Confinement Unit, I know more about the process and the inmates than any of you,” the fozzythebear account tweeted, according to the lawsuit.
Eve did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment but did tweet about her decision to file the suit.
“Step into the light and make yourself right,” she wrote on Twitter Monday.
Bringing back federal executions has become a defining and divisive aspect of Donald Trump’s presidency. Under Trump, the Department of Justice has executed 10 people by lethal injection since July, more than any other president in 130 years, according to the Associated Press. And a few more people are scheduled to be executed in the next few weeks.