The man convicted of the 1998 killing of State Senator Tommy Burks of Monterey was found dead in his prison cell Wednesday morning at the Morgan County Correctional Complex.
A statement from the Tennessee Department of Correction said 48 year old Byron Looper was found dead at about 11:10 a.m. EDT Wednesday.
The commissioner has asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to investigate the cause of his death.
The former Putnam County property assessor was convicted of murder in the 1998 fatal shooting of Burks as he sat in his pickup truck near his Cumberland County farm.
Looper was Burks' political opponent in the November election that year for the State Senate and prosecutors believed that was the motive for the killing. The murder occurred only a few weeks before the election. After Senator Burks' death, a district wide write-in campaign was launched to elect Burks' wife Charlotte to the State Senate. At that time, DeKalb County was part of Burks' district.
Looper, who legally changed his middle name to "Low Tax," stood trial later and was sentenced to life in prison.