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MI- Inmate dies at county jail

10-27-2009 Michigan:

A St. Joseph man convicted of abusing his 6-year-old daughter apparently committed suicide by hanging himself in the Buchanan County Jail on Saturday.

Sheriff Mike Strong told the News-Press on Monday that the body of inmate Adam R. Lee, 36, underwent an autopsy and the department is awaiting the toxicology report.

“As it stands right now, nothing seems out of the ordinary,” Mr. Strong said. “There was no indication to any of our medical staff that this guy was threatening or going to do this.”

The sheriff added that Mr. Lee’s cell mate had been removed the day before and Mr. Lee was only by himself for a short period of time before the incident happened.

Mr. Lee was sentenced to one year in jail last month by Associate Judge Keith Marquart, who found the defendant guilty of third-degree assault at the conclusion of a court trial in August.

The Class A misdemeanor assault charge stemmed from an incident during which Mr. Lee choked his 6-year-old daughter. His three children were living with a foster family at the time after children’s services removed them from the defendant’s home due to unsanitary living conditions.

During his sentencing, Mr. Lee admitted that he tried to kill himself in jail after his conviction and was depressed. But the defendant testified he was doing much better since starting on anti-depressants.

Carol Jenkins, a friend of Mr. Lee’s from their days at Lafayette High School, said she hadn’t talked to him in quite some time but the news still came as a shock.

“I hate that this happened. He was a good guy. I didn’t know that life was that bad,” she said. “This is going to have an effect on a lot of people.”

Sheriff Strong said the last death in the jail, which occurred about two years ago by his recollection, was due to an overdose.

“I don’t think we’ve had (a suicide) here in the last three, four or five years, but it happens in other institutions,” Mr. Strong said.

The sheriff added that if the department’s medical staff saw indications Mr. Lee intended to harm himself, they would’ve taken him out of his cell, dressed him in special clothing and kept a vigilant watch over him.

“That was not the case on this individual,” said Mr. Strong, who told the News-Press that his staff performed standard checks on Mr. Lee. “This was an isolated incident.” ..Source.. by R.J. Cooper

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