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Prisoner charged in cellmate’s death has killed twice before

May 23, 2019
This Feb. 27, 2017 booking photo provided by the South Carolina Department of Corrections shows William Tillman. Tillman, a South Carolina prisoner already convicted of killing someone behind bars, has been charged with murder in the death of his cellmate last month. Arrest warrants say Tillman kicked Carl Pollen Jr. several times in the head, then strangled him with a bed sheet on April 29, 2019, at Perry Correctional Institute near Pelzer, S.C. (South Carolina Department of Corrections via AP)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina prisoner recently charged with murder in the death of a cellmate last April killed another inmate 17 years ago and was sent away for life for the fatal stabbing of his roommate in 1999.

William Edward Tillman, 54, kicked Carl Pollen Jr. several times in the head and then strangled him with a sheet April 29 in their cell at Perry Correctional Institute near Pelzer, according to an arrest warrant released Wednesday.

Both men were serving life sentences for murder. Tillman killed his roommate by stabbing him in the neck with a butcher knife in Spartanburg County in 1999. Pollen, 45, beat and stabbed a Myrtle Beach motel owner who employed him in 1999.

Tillman killed again in 2002, stabbing his cellmate, 37-year-old Michael Hodge, at McCormick Correctional Institute, according to court records. Hodge was serving a 10-year sentence for burglary, forgery, larceny and other charges from Spartanburg County. Tillman pleaded guilty to murder and was given an additional 30 years tacked on to his life sentence.

Tillman was immediately sent to Kirkland Correctional Institute, which has the maximum security unit where the worst behaving inmates are isolated, according to state prison records.

Tillman spent 13 years there other than a few visits to court or to get medical care before he was returned to a general prison in 2015.

Since the 2002 stabbing, Tillman’s only violations of prison police before the April attack were three violations for having cellphones, which are banned behind bars, and one possession of drugs violation, according to prison records.

Tillman met all the criteria needed to return to the general prison population, Corrections Department spokeswoman Chrysti Shain said.

Records didn’t show if Tillman has a lawyer for his recent murder charge.

In his first murder case in 1999, Tillman testified in his own defense, saying he killed 53-year-old Harry Jolley Jr. because he was attacked and was trying to defend himself.

Jolley was angry at Tillman because the two met when Tillman was hitchhiking and Jolley offered him a place to stay. The two had a sexual relationship for a while before Tillman testified he asked to end it.

The night of the killing, Jolley became angry because the relationship didn’t start again.

But prosecutors said Tillman first attacked his roommate with a pocketknife, then after he was hurt, went to the kitchen, got a butcher knife, and stabbed him in the neck to kill him. Other evidence included imprints of Tillman’s shoes on Jolley’s back and head.

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