Man convicted of killing cyclist dies in prison

1STOCK Court Scales graphicJACKSON (AP) – A Mississippi man convicted in the death of a Dutch cyclist has died in a federal prison hospital in North Carolina.

Chris Burke, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prison, says Wendell G. Blount,  died Wednesday in the prison hospital in Butner, N.C. Burke says it appears Blount died of natural causes but an autopsy is pending.

Federal prosecutors said Blount was under the influence of prescription morphine when his SUV struck Esther Hageman on April 22, 2009, as she rode south on the Natchez Trace Parkway near Houston. Hageman, of Leiden, Netherlands, was a veteran journalist for one of the Netherlands’ major newspapers, Trouw.

In 2010, Blount, who was 58 at that time, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for vehicular manslaughter in the 2009 death of Hageman.

The Natchez Trace is part of the National Parks system so Hageman’s death was prosecuted in federal court.

Blount was convicted of manslaughter in April 2010, but authorities said he fled house arrest to avoid sentencing. He was captured in October 2010 in Baton Rouge, La. Legal wrangling in the case added more delays to the sentencing, which ultimately took place in October 2011.

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