Louisiana inmate sets self afire, dies

FRANKLIN PARISH, La. — An inmate in Louisiana’s maximum-security prison set himself on fire in the Louisiana State Penitentiary and died in a hospital, authorities said Thursday.

Joel Baker, 62, was serving life on three counts of aggravated rape and lesser sentences on other sex convictions in 1989 in Franklin Parish, corrections spokesman Ken Pastorick said in a news release.

Baker was found in critical condition Sunday morning behind the Main Prison Camp of the prison in Angola, and died Christmas Eve in a Baton Rouge hospital, Pastorick said. He said about 8 percent of Baker’s body was burned.

“All evidence indicates this was a suicide attempt, and there is no indication of foul play,” he wrote. “The investigation continues, and no further details will be released at this time.”

He would not comment about whether investigators are looking at supervision at the prison or how Baker got material with which to set himself on fire.

“We’re investigating what happened, how it happened — the whole nine yards,” he said.

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