A state prison guard on Tuesday pleaded guilty to federal felony charges related to the unprovoked 2018 beating death of an inmate at Western Illinois Correctional Center.

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Willie Hedden, 42, of Mount Sterling, entered the plea to two counts of civil rights violations and one of providing misleading information in the subsequent investigation of the May 17, 2018 injuries sustained by 65-year-old Larry Earvin.

Earvin died five weeks later. The two civil rights counts each carry penalties of as much as life in prison. Hedden agreed to cooperate in an ongoing investigation which involves two of Hedden's Illinois Department of Corrections colleagues.

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