Violent pasts throw Spring Creek inmates together, and one ends up dead

Michelle Theriault Boots

A 29-year-old inmate at the state's maximum-security prison in Seward was killed early Sunday in an assault by his cellmate, who fewer than seven months ago put another prisoner into the hospital in critical condition after a severe beating, the Alaska Department of Corrections said Monday.

Officers at the Spring Creek Correctional Complex found Elihu "Germaine" Gillespie "unconscious from injuries he had sustained in a physical altercation" in a segregation unit cell at 1:23 a.m. on Sunday, department spokeswoman Sherrie Daigle wrote in a release.

Officers called 911. Gillespie was taken to Providence Seward Medical Center by Seward medics.

He was pronounced dead at 2:32 a.m., Daigle said.

The Department of Corrections identified Gillespie's cellmate as Jason Rak, 25, who in 2012 legally changed his name to Jasmine Divine Angelica, saying in court that he was transgender and preferred a more feminine name.

In December, Angelica attacked Forrest Ahvakana, a 48-year-old serving a sentence for burglary and assault, Alaska State Troopers reported. Ahvakana was rushed to Alaska Regional Hospital and listed in critical condition, troopers said at the time. He is now serving his sentence at the Anchorage Correctional Complex.

Court records show no charges were filed against Angelica in that incident.

Gillespie is the sixth inmate to die at an Alaska correctional institution this year and the fifth since April.

None of the other deaths have been investigated as homicides.

Sunday's killing is the first suspected homicide at Spring Creek since the 2008 slaying of John Carlin III, known as the man convicted of killing Mechele Linehan's former fiance Kent Leppink in 1996.

Germaine Gillespie was born and raised in Anchorage, the second oldest of five boys, his family said.

He attended Baxter Elementary, Wendler Middle School and East High School and graduated from Alaska Military Youth Academy.

Gillespie was big on family, his brother Rico Gillespie said: His dream was to own a ranch in Arizona, where he would raise horses and dogs and gather his siblings and other family members.

He loved hairstyling. Since learning of his death, Rico Gillespie said he's been getting texts from women who knew his brother growing up.

"They say, he taught me to do my hair and makeup," he said.

Germaine Gillespie was serving time on a second-degree murder conviction for his role as the driver in a 2009 drug robbery gone wrong that resulted in the deaths of two men, the Anchorage Daily News reported at the time.

He had been in prison before. In 2004, Gillespie pleaded no contest to charges that he sexually assaulted two 13-year-old boys, one at an Alaska Club location on Tudor Road, the Daily News reported.

Angelica was at Spring Creek on charges of attempted murder, assault and weapons misconduct connected to a 2008 shooting outside the Dimond Center mall that injured two men.

It's not clear when the two became cell mates. The match was not a good one.

While Gillespie wasn't a physically large man, he "didn't take anything from anybody -- couldn't nobody pick on him," his brother said.

In prison, that translated to a lot of time spent alone in cells, his father said.

Rickey Gillespie, Germaine Gillespie's father, said his son had almost never had a roommate in prison. He "didn't do so well with other people," Rickey Gillespie said.

"That's why he stayed in solitary," he said in a phone interview from his home in Maricopa, Arizona.

Germaine Gillespie and Angelica were housed in a two-person cell in Spring Creek's House One, a segregation unit for the most violent, disruptive felons in the state's maximum security prison.

Both had "extensive disciplinary history within the correctional system," Daigle wrote.

House One was "fully staffed" at the time Gillespie was discovered, Daigle said. She would not say how many correctional officers on duty constitutes full staffing.

Angelica and Gillespie were friends who had conflicts in the past, Rickey Gillespie said. His son had talked about Angelica, whom he called "Rak," in phone calls.

He wants to know why the two were bunked together in the segregation unit. To him, it seems like a dangerous idea.

"If they had altercations before -- (prison officials) are the ones with college degrees," he said. "You should know you shouldn't put those people together."

Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at 257-4344.