Man pleads guilty to 2022 death of inmate at Shelby County Jail

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A man pled guilty Tuesday to the death of Marcus Donald, an inmate who was killed in his cell at the Shelby County Jail last year.

Donald’s cellmate, Stephen Robinson, is accused of strangling him to death.

“Stephen grabbed him in a chokehold and did not let go,” said a State of Tennessee representative.

Robinson was also in custody for stabbing another man back in 2022.

“He told officers he stabbed a man to death on Hamilton, which was captured on body-worn cameras,” said a State of Tennessee representative.

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Tuesday, Robinson sat in court with two bodyguards. When Judge Carolyn Blackett asked if he was pleading guilty, he replied, “Yes ma’am.”

Robinson will serve 51 years for first-degree murder for the stabbing and an additional 25 years for second-degree murder for Donald’s death.

“Justice was served,” said Donald’s aunt Stephanie Ellis.

But, according to Donald’s family and their attorney, some of this could have been avoided.

“The fact that Mr. Donald should have been released twelve hours earlier. We have witnesses talking about how he was telling the guards – that it’s time for me to check out, I am ready to be released, and they just brushed him off,” said attorney Jacob Webster Brown.

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Last week, Donald’s family filed a lawsuit against the jail and Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner.

Ellis said she will miss her nephew, who always made everyone at the dinner table laugh, this Thanksgiving.

“He liked banana pudding, he just liked anything food,” Ellis said. “He was helpful and helping my mother and he was the life of the party, always making us laugh.”

The family is hoping to get justice for Donald and to make sure no other family has an empty seat at the table this holiday season for what they call negligence at 201 Poplar.

“We want justice in all manners for all people, not just for our family but any family that has to come in contact with this system,” Ellis said.

The attorney told us the county, so far, has agreed to accept service, meaning they will be coming into the lawsuit. They will proceed to get the other defendants served.

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