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FL- County inmate commits suicide

8-6-2008 Florida:

MANATEE --A man facing prison time for incest was found dead in his cell late Monday at the Manatee County jail.

Jail officials are treating his death as a suicide.

Michael Alan Mills, 46, was sentenced on Friday to five years in prison after pleading no contest to eight counts of incest.

He was also facing a count of sexual battery in Leon County, where he was going to be extradited, detectives said.

Mills, who was being held in protective custody, was alive when jail officials conducted a head count at 10:15 p.m.

Inmates in protective custody are checked about every 30 minutes, said Randy Warren, Manatee County Sheriff's spokesman for the jail.

However, about 35 minutes later, Mills was found hanging from an air-conditioner vent in his cell. He used a sheet and socks to create a makeshift rope shortly after checks, the sheriff's office reported.

"When you have a population of 1,100 or more people who are dealing with a lot of issues they may not express to staff, there may not be visible indications that someone is going to harm themselves," Warren said. "In this case, the staff had no indication he wanted to harm himself. He was not on suicide watch."

Inmates on suicide watch are given paper gowns and sheets and are checked on at least every 15 minutes, Warren said.

Deputies tried reviving Mills and contacted emergency medical services, Warren said.

Manatee County sheriff's deputies arrested Mills Feb. 14 after investigators found him to be related to a woman he had two young daughters with. According to sheriff's reports, the woman told authorities the two were related and said they began having sex when she was 17.

The woman moved from New York when she was 16 to live with Mills when he was married and living in the Gainesville area.

Deputies responded to a room at the Budget Inn in the 600 block of 67th Street Circle East for a domestic incident at about 5:12 p.m. in February. The woman allegedly slapped Mills in the face and she was arrested. When Child Protective Services began reviewing the birth certificates of the children and woman, they opened an incest investigation.

The woman did not want Mills prosecuted, authorities said. Since the discovery, prosecutors said, the pair's daughters have been taken into state custody. They remain in foster care, according to detectives.

The last suicide at the jail took place in May 2006 when 44-year-old Glen Bivens jumped off a balcony. ..News Source.. by BETH BURGER

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