BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) — James Carrier allegedly beat and choked fellow Sullivan County Jail inmate Andrew Grodes to death July 1 during the 15-minute interval between regular checks in the cell where both were being held on suicide watch, an investigator testified Wednesday.

Carrier listened in court Wednesday as a Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) investigator described video showing him allegedly beating and choking fellow jail inmate Andrew Grodes to death just after 4:30 p.m.

Sessions Court Judge Teresa Nelson bound Carrier’s case over to criminal court and set an Oct. 13 preliminary hearing date. Carrier, 44, faces charges of first-degree murder, aggravated assault by strangulation and aggravated assault by serious bodily injury.

Lt. Michelle Gilliam works for SCSO’s internal affairs division and testified that she arrived at her office on July 1 after Grodes had already been taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. She immediately downloaded and reviewed video from cameras installed in the jail’s “Tank 5,” where Carrier, Grodes and one other inmate were housed and all were on suicide watch.

Gilliam said at 4:34 p.m., the recording showed Grodes get off the top bunk “and lay down in the floor directly beside James Carrier.” 

Carrier appeared to be asleep prior to Grodes getting onto the floor and “was very agitated” when he woke up with Grodes next to him. She said Carrier is seen pushing Grodes to a corner of the cell and beginning to hit him. 

Grodes then “retreated to the top bunk of the cell,” while Carrier paced back and forth on the floor apparently “mouthing words.” She said after several seconds Carrier went over and got on the top bunk and grabbed Grodes by the throat. 

With Grodes’ feet dangling above the floor, Carrier continued choking him for a number of seconds before dropping him onto the floor, Gilliam said. Grodes fell to the floor and curled into what Gilliam called a fetal position, after which Carrier got down and kicked and hit him 

“This actually lasts until Andrew Grodes’ body goes completely lifeless,” Gilliam said.  She said Carrier is then seen putting his feet on Grodes’ neck twice, once for about eight to 10 seconds and shortly after for 18 to 20 seconds. 

Gilliam said Carrier then briefly tried to move Grodes’ legs before getting up on the bunk and sitting there until officers arrived for another check. 

When Public Defender Andrew Gibbons cross-examined Gilliam, he asked whether Grodes did more than just lie passively next to Carrier, to which she answered “it appeared like he was cuddling Mr. Carrier.” It was after that when Carrier pushed Grodes away, Gilliam acknowledged. 

She said that Carrier told investigators he was awoken by Grodes “trying to strangle him,” and that despite Grodes letting him go, Carrier “snapped.” However, she admitted to Assistant District Attorney  Kevin Cisney that Grodes’ arm appeared to be around Carrier’s midsection, not in the area of his neck or throat.

Both men were brought to jail after what appeared to be mental health-related incidents. Grodes had been jailed just the day before after allegedly assaulting security guards at Bristol Regional Medical Center, where he was on a psychiatric hold.

Carrier had been jailed on June 16 after allegedly threatening his mother’s life at her home in Kingsport. An affidavit for his charge of simple assault under the domestic violence law stated that he was attempting to hang himself from a ceiling light when officers arrived at the home.