Michael DeWayne Walker was serving a 21-year sentence for aggravated sexual assault of a child when he was put in a cell with Wilbert "Peanut" Hamilton in 2006.
Hamilton beat him to death, and Walker's parents have sued on the grounds that guards and prison officials knew Hamilton was a violent psychotic and that he was allowed to have steel-toed boots in his cell.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice employees have sought to have the suit dismissed on grounds of immunity, but federal judge Kenneth Hoyt has ruled the parents' claims can be heard.
There's a factual dispute over how long the beating went on -- Walker's parents say it lasted five hours, and guards should absolutely have been able to hear it, while the defendants in the suit say it was only a few minutes.
The guards also say there was no formal policy made clear to them that child-sex offenders should be kept isolated from the general prison population for their safety, or that the steel-toed boots had to be left in the prison work area and not taken into the cell.
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In court documents, Walker's parents say Hamilton "was regarded as crazy and had a reputation for beating on his cellmates." They claim Hamilton warned guards he would kill Walker as they were putting him in the cell.
Putting him there violated their son's constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, their suit says.
The guards say all proper procedures were followed.
Hoyt denied the guards' motion, saying, "genuine issues of material fact remain disputed regarding whether defendants violated Walker's Eighth Amendment rights."