Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

January 7, 2013

Tragic jail death gets some answers

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — Authorities believe it was some type of medical condition that caused the death of a woman held in a Garvin County jail holding cell earlier this week.

The woman was identified by two law enforcement agencies as 33-year-old Jamie Lynn Russell. In an obituary submitted to the PV Democrat her last name was listed as Fisher.

Russell was pronounced dead at the local hospital late Wednesday night after earlier becoming unresponsive while in a holding cell at the jail facility in Pauls Valley.

Sheriff Larry Rhodes said Friday afternoon he was verbally told Russell’s autopsy showed she died from some undisclosed condition she had before being arrested and taken to jail.

“The M.E.’s preliminary finding as the result of an autopsy was she died by natural causes due to a pre-existing medical condition,” Rhodes said, referring to the state medical examiner’s office.

“It is a tragedy that I regret for the family,” he said. “Upon reviewing the circumstances at the jail, it does not appear there were any indicators that would have alerted detention personnel the inmate suffered a medical episode in the holding area.

“When detention deputies tried to awaken her from her sleep they discovered she was unresponsive.”

The incident that led to Russell’s incarceration actually took place at Pauls Valley General Hospital.

A report filed by Pauls Valley Police showed officers were at the hospital on another matter when a nurse asked for assistance because a patient was not cooperating. The patient was Russell.

Officer James Garrison reported speaking with Russell, who claimed hospital staff was telling her to lie on her back so they could perform a certain test related to her complaints of stomach pain.

The woman was telling the staff she couldn’t get on her back because of the pain, according to the officer’s report.

The report shows Russell was later released from the hospital but she never actually left the room on the claim she couldn’t move.

When officers were again called to check on Russell they found two pills that did not belong to her. She was taken into custody on two drug possession complaints and driven to county jail.

Russell was taken to jail around 8:30 p.m. that night and placed in a holding cell prior to completing the book-in process. Then she reportedly went to sleep.

The sheriff added Russell was never placed in an actual cell as she was only held in the booking area.

A couple of hours later detention deputies noticed Russell was unresponsive as resuscitation efforts began immediately and an ambulance was called to the scene, according to Rhodes.

She was taken to the local hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

After the woman’s death the sheriff said he followed regular procedures and contacted the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the state jail inspector and the state medical examiner’s office.