A man facing a murder charge in Liberty County reportedly was bludgeoned to death by his cellmate at the Gib Lewis Unit in Woodville, Texas. According to a statement from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Daniel Luken, 56, was found by TDCJ staff in the early morning hours of Jan. 6 in his cell with “injuries consistent with a physical assault.”
Life-saving measures were performed on Luken, and he was taken by ambulance to Tyler County Hospital in Woodville, where he succumbed to his injuries. He was pronounced dead at 3:43 a.m.
Luken’s cellmate, Jason Mark Ryder, is being accused of causing Luken’s death, though the motive for the assault is unclear at this time.
Both men were incarcerated for violent crimes. Luken first entered the TDCJ system in 1986 to serve a 45-year sentence for Burglary of a Habitation with Intent to Commit a Sexual Assault (Harris County) and a 30-year sentence for Aggravated Sexual Assault With a Deadly Weapon (Harris County). While incarcerated, he received three additional sentences: a 7-year sentence for Aggravated Assault of a Correctional Officer (Walker County), a 2-year sentence for Prohibited Substance in a Correctional Facility (Jefferson County) and a life sentence for Aggravated Assault of a Correctional Officer (Anderson County).
After his early release from prison, Luken was required to register as a sex offender. In May 2022, Luken became one of two suspects accused of the shooting death of Christopher Aaron Jorgensen off CR 126 in the Moss Bluff area of south Liberty County. The other suspect, Jorgensen’s neighbor Edwin Thomas Baty, is still awaiting trial in Liberty County.
Mark Ryder, the man now accused of Luken’s murder, was first received at TDCJ on June 3, 2022, to serve a 50-year sentence for Injury to a Child (Brazoria County). While incarcerated, he received an additional 20-year sentence for Murder (Walker County).
Earlier this week, the Liberty County District Attorney’s Office filed paperwork to end the murder charge against Luken as he is no longer able to stand trial. A trial date for Baty has not been set, though his case is up for a docket call in May 2023 before 253rd State District Judge The Honorable Chap Cain.
Baty also has a prior conviction from April 2008 for Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child.