Tennessee death row inmate convicted of 1983 murder dies of natural causes

(Photo: Department of Correction)

NASHVILLE (WATE) – An inmate on death row convicted in the 1983 beating death of an Elizabethton woman, died from what appears to be natural causes Wednesday while in the Riverbend Maximum Security Prison.

The Tennessee Department of Correction says David McNish, 63, was found unresponsive at 5:55 a.m by medical staff. Staff believe he died of natural causes. A coroner will perform a medical assessment.

McNish was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Gladys Smith, a widow in Elizabethton and a neighbor of McNish’s parents. According to prosecutors, Smith was beaten to death with a glass vase, fracturing her skull. She died a short time after the beating. When questioned at police headquarters, McNish denied any knowledge of the incident, saying he was partially under the influence of narcotics. Blood found on his pants matched the victims, according to investigators.

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