Pinellas deputies investigate murder in jail - WFLA News Channel 8

Pinellas deputies investigate murder in jail

Posted: Updated:
Scott Greenberg Scott Greenberg
Pinellas County -

A Pinellas County inmate accused of strangling his girlfriend while stuffing toilet paper down her throat is now facing even more serious charges for killing a cellmate in a similar fashion.

"This is the first time ever that I am aware that we've had a murder occur within the Pinellas County jail," said Pinellas Co. Sheriff Bob Gualtieri from Clearwater on Sunday.

Gualtieri says around 12:58 a.m. on Sunday, inmate Scott Greenberg, 29, hollered out that there was a "man down" in his cell. He was sharing a cell with Kelly Damon Harding, 48.

Deputies found Harding unconscious and in cardiac arrest. Medical staff did what they could, then rushed the inmate to the hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead at 2:35 a.m.

"While at the hospital ... the emergency room physician in examining Mr. Harding found that he had toilet paper - wet toilet paper that was crammed down his throat," Gualtieri said. "They removed what now counts to two 3-ounce containers of toilet paper that had been jammed down Harding's throat."

Investigators believe it was eerily similar to the crime that landed Greenberg in jail in the first place. St. Petersburg Police arrested him in August 2012 for the death of his girlfriend, 27 year-old Jennifer Lee Zale.

Investigators said Greenberg made statements that he had strangled her during sexual asphyxia at the Kenwood Inn Hotel, 451 34th Street N in St. Petersburg.

"He was charged with second-degree murder because he strangled her, choked her and stuffed toilet paper down her throat to kill her," the Sheriff said.

Though inmate Harding didn't have any signs of sexual abuse, the injuries that led to his death were similar.

"Harding's injuries are consistent with strangulation and the injuries that Harding suffered are very very close, if not identical to the same injuries that Jennifer Zale suffered when she was choked, strangled, and had toilet paper stuffed down her throat," Sheriff Gualtieri said. "In fact, some of the same bones in her neck are the same bones that were broken in the neck of Mr. Harding."

Deputies believe the two inmates had never met until a few hours before. Guards had just conduct a check six minutes before Greenberg started yelling.

"When you have a homicide within the Pinellas County Jail and this is the first time ever that it's happened - it is of course something we're going to look at very closely, very thoroughly and do a comprehensive review of everything that occurred so there will be a thorough investigation," Gualtieri said.

The protective custody cells are stark, and contain only a bunk, toilet and sink. The men were both in the cell because of bad conduct in the past.

The sheriff says Greenberg was there because he had been aggressive, and had swung at staff, and had a history of fighting with other inmates.

He had a criminal history of kidnapping, possession of cocaine, burglary, grand theft auto, armed burglary and fraud, according to the Sheriff.

Harding had been serving time for burglary since October 2012, and pleaded guilty to a lesser offense of trespassing. Gualtieri says guards put him in protective custody because he had thrown water on staff and defecated in a recreation yard, among other issues.

In addition to the second-degree murder charge of his girlfriend, Scott Greenberg is now facing a first-degree murder charge.

"Greenberg told other inmates that he was in jail on the second-degree murder charge and that he was not going to do life in prison and that he wanted to go to death row," Gualtieri said.

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