A vision-impaired inmate serving a life sentence for second-degree murder filed a federal suit this weekend in an effort to force the Louisiana Department of Corrections to accommodate his requests for large-print documents.
Mark Whitted, 42, of Thibodaux, also asks for access to a high-powered magnifier or closed-circuit television so he can read newspapers, magazines and other small-print materials, in addition to other accommodations for his disability.
Whitted has served more than 19 years for the December 1993 shooting death of his girlfriend, Kim Armont, 25, of Vacherie.
Thibodaux police said after the murder that Whitted shot Armont in the head with a .380-caliber pistol as she sat in her vehicle in front of his Thibodaux residence.
Whitted then went into the residence and shot himself in the head, leaving himself in critical condition, police reported.
Attorneys for the Advocacy Center in New Orleans filed the lawsuit on Whitted’s behalf on Saturday in Baton Rouge.
The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge James J. Brady.
Advocacy Center attorney Susan M. Meyers did not respond Monday to telephone and email requests for comment on the case.
Laura J. Gerdes, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, said Monday the suit had not yet been received by that office and that there would be no immediate comment.
Whitted, who is incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, wants more than magnifying reading equipment.
He said in his suit that his vision problems make it difficult for him to gauge distances. That means he frequently bumps his head on the bunk beds in his dormitory, Whitted explained.
He said he needs a single bunk to avoid that problem.
The inmate said he also needs a shower chair or stable grab bars that would allow him to maintain his balance while washing his body.
Because of his vision and balance problems, Whitted said, he frequently falls or stumbles into beds, lockers or other objects while moving on narrow walkways that lead to showers, a kitchen and a medicine dispensary.
Whitted seeks a permanent injunction requiring provision of his requested services and equipment under the rules of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act.