Authorities are investigating the death of an inmate of the Michigan Department of Corrections, who was serving time for a local crime.

Rodriguez Montez Burks of Muskegon was killed last Thursday at the Alger Maximum Correctional Facility located in Munising. The alleged suspect is Burks’ cellmate, whose name has not yet been released, and the manner of Burks’ death is yet to be determined by the medical examiner. Burks was serving a two to ten year sentence for fleeing and eluding officers in Livingston County.

Inmates at the prison told the Detroit Metro Times that Burks’ cellmate killed him because Burks was gay and they were “having issues”. MDOC Spokesman Chris Gautz says the alleged suspect did request a new cellmate, but he did not specify why. An investigation by the prison and Michigan State Police is ongoing, and Gautz says it’s still unknown whether Burks’ sexual orientation was a factor in his death or not. The prisoners who spoke to the Detroit Metro Times also allege that the suspect told two prison staffers that he would hurt Burks if he was not moved to another cell. Gautz denied those allegations, saying that is not the prison’s protocol, and if an inmate had threatened another individual, he would’ve been ticketed and punished.

Gautz added that information from other prisoners must be taken with a grain of salt. He says in these types of incidences, prisoners will often contact media outlets and share information that is not always accurate or stems from rumors.

Gautz says phone calls, electronic messages, and camera footage are all being reviewed as part of the investigation. The suspect has been segregated away from the rest of the jail population and made available to the MSP. His identity will be released when and if an arrest is made. (DK)