The Norman Transcript

Crime/Courts

May 29, 2013

Inmate put in coma

NORMAN — A Department of Corrections inmate serving time for several assault and battery incidents was charged with manslaughter last week in Cleveland County District Court after an altercation with his cell mate over sleeping arrangements.

Matthew Allen Lira, 20, who was in custody at the Lexington Assessment and Reception Center, was charged with one count of manslaughter on May 21. The altercation took place on March 13.

Lira was assigned the cell in March 2012. Since he was alone, he had been sleeping on the bottom bunk even though he had been assigned to the top bunk, the affidavit filed with the charge said.

When inmate Larry Harper, 62, was assigned to the same cell and assigned to the bottom bunk, the two inmates began to fight over the bunk. The affidavit said Harper initially pushed Lira, so Lira pushed him back into a corner by the door.

“Once in the corner, Lira began striking Harper about the face and then struck him in the face with his knee. Lira said Harper fell backward and struck his head on the concrete causing a (one and a half) inch long and (quarter) inch wide laceration on the back of the head,” the affidavit states.

When Lira saw Harper wasn’t moving and blood seeped from his head, Lira summoned help from orderlies, the affidavit said.

Harper was transported to Purcell Hospital and later the Oklahoma University Medical Center Trauma Unit, where he was placed in surgery once he stabilized.

“Harper sustained severe brain damage and is currently in a comatose state, and according to the latest hospital reports he will probably not come out of it,” the affidavit states.

Lira has pleaded guilty to several offenses. In 2010, he pleaded guilty to assault and battery in Cleveland County. In Tulsa County in 2011, he pleaded guilty to two counts of assault and battery on a police officer and obstructing an officer, and in 2012 he pleaded guilty to assault and battery on a detention officer.

Harper was incarcerated after he pleaded guilty to indecent or lewd acts with a child under 16 in Oklahoma County in 2012. According to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections website, Harper was to serve 10 years incarcerated and 10 years of probation for his crime in Oklahoma County.

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