Washington County deputies investigate inmate murdered in cell

KNWA

Man jailed for murder now accused in death of cellmate

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA) — Washington County Deputies are investigating an inmate death at the jail Tuesday night, August 27.

According to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Washington County Detention Center detainee Dekota Harvey was moved to a different block in the detention center based on his complaint of being afraid for his life because other detainees had knowledge of his murder charges.

Dekota Harvey

Harvey specifically asked to be moved to R-21, an area that is less crowded and has lockdown cells.

Jail checks were completed at 11:25 p.m. on cell R-21 and everything appeared to be normal. At approximately 12:23 a.m., R-21 was checked again by a detention deputy.

The deputy found Harvey waiting at the cell door, and Luis Cobos-Cenobio laying on his back in the cell floor by his bunk bed.

“It’s a tragedy. Of course we don’t want this to happen at our facility, or anywhere,” says Sheriff Tim Helder. “Mr. Harvey requested to move in that block because there was less crowding or people there, that kind of a thing…and had mentioned that he was under a perceived threat from some of his block mates for his alleged murder last year.”

Harvey told the detention deputy that Luis Cobos-Cenobio was dead and he killed him, but he did it because Cobos-Cenobio wanted him to do it.

According to Sheriff Helder, the victim was on suicide watch back in November, but was taken off of it in December after medical staff determined he was no longer a threat to himself or to others. He died by strangulation.

Sheriff Helder says the two had known each other prior, but had no history of violence, aggravation, or not getting along.

The deputy called for backup, opened the cell door, and began rendering aid immediately by starting CPR on Cobos-Cenobio.

Luis Cobos-Cenobio

Central EMS was called at 12:26 a.m. and they arrived at 12:30 a.m., but they were unable to resuscitate Cobos-Cenobio and ended their efforts at 12:57 a.m.

“We did background checks. There were no indicators that this guy would do what he did,” Helder said.

Washington County Coroner Mike Neville was called to respond to the scene.

The Washington County Criminal Investigation Division was called to respond at 12:42 a.m. and a thorough investigation is currently being conducted.

Cobos-Cenobio was taken by the Washington County Coroner’s Office and his body will be submitted to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for an autopsy.

Harvey is being charged with capital murder, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

Eva Madison, Justice of the Peace for District 9, says she was shocked to hear this happened in Washington County.

“It’s unusual to me that in a prison, jail setting, if somebody wants to go somewhere particular you have to start thinking something is up. It’s unusual for me that he asked for a specific location,” she said.

Madison is hoping the county can take a hard look at the criminal justice system.

“I think we need to focus on getting people through the pre-trial process much quicker, and it’s not just the courts — it’s the lawyers, evidence, whose testing DNA. The whole process has slowed down,” Madison said.

Sheriff Helder says this is the first homicide that has happened in the jail that he’s aware of.


Cobos-Cenobio was in jail for firing at a Washington County Deputy.

Cobos-Cenobio pleaded not guilty to trying to kill several police officers in November.

According to police, he led law enforcement on a car chase through several Northwest Arkansas cities after refusing to pull over for a traffic stop.

He fired shots at a Washington County deputy and a Springdale police officer.

He faced multiple charges, including attempted capital murder and possession of a controlled substance.

Cobos-Cenobio arrived here as an undocumented immigrant and was a DACA recipient, according to court documents.


In March, Harvey was charged with capital murder and attempted capital murder in connection to a shooting at a Fayetteville Apartment complex.

He pleaded not-guilty to shooting his ex-girlfriend in the leg, and her friend, in the chest, killing her.

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