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Questions raised after man dies in jail

11-18-2009 Indiana:

Sheriff: Man stuffed food in his mouth, fell out of chair and hit head

After a 65-year-old man diagnosed with depression and paranoid schizophrenia died at the Michael L. Becher Adult Corrections Complex on Friday, questions are being asked about whether jail was the right place for him.

Preston Shaw had been charged with sexual battery, as a class D felony, for allegedly molesting a severely disabled woman at Hillcrest Centre for Health and Rehabilitation in Jeffersonville in March. Shaw initially was found competent to stand trial by Circuit Court Judge Dan Moore, and then following a mental health evaluation, he was declared incompetent for a proceeding and was transported to Evansville State Hospital. He was returned to jail late last month after mental health officials determined he had improved enough to stand trial.

Rodden said Shaw was on 24-hour surveillance, and he was allowed to watch television in the holding area. That is where he was when he reportedly fell out of his wheelchair and landed face down on top of his dinner tray.

“He shoved a peanut butter sandwich in his mouth, and then he fell over and hit his head,” Rodden said.

According to an incident report, corrections officers responded and attempted to provide medical treatment, but Shaw was unresponsive. Clark County Deputy Coroner Joe Leach said the cause of death is pending an autopsy, but that foul play is not suspected. The official cause may not be determined for six to eight weeks, Leach said.

“He posed a pretty big problem for us,” Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden said. “None of the nursing homes would take him because of everything that happened.”

Rodden said that Shaw was not able to be held with other inmates because of his social behavior, but they did not want to keep him in complete isolation. When asked if Shaw should have been in jail, Rodden said that he is not a medical expert, but that Shaw was cleared by health professionals.

“It’s just a sad situation. I don’t think our officers could have done anything any differently,” Rodden said.

Shaw’s attorney, public defender Jeffrey Stonebraker, said he last spoke to Shaw in July before he was initially transported to Evansville.

“You have a man with some mental challenges and who is in a wheelchair, you ask if they would want to be in a jail, a hospital room or a nursing home, I think anyone would rather be in one of the last two options,” Stonebraker said.

He said medical professionals evaluated Shaw and determined he had improved enough to be considered competent.

“When I talked to him [in July], he was a long way from it,” Stonebraker said, referring to Shaw’s competence.

Shaw was arrested after he was allegedly found in bed with a 33-year-old woman with profound mental retardation and cerebral palsy. She was unable to walk or talk. His pants were reportedly pulled down, and his shirt was off.

Stonebraker said Shaw has no close family in the area but had a legal guardian in Evansville. Stonebraker said he still believes Shaw could not fully understand what he was being charged with.

“The next step would have been to have him examined for insanity,” Stonebraker said.

The prosecution moved to dismiss the case against Shaw earlier this week. The family of the victim in the sexual battery case has hired an attorney and is considering a lawsuit against the nursing home. ..Source.. MATT THACKER


Inmate dies after wheelchair fall at S. Ind. jail

11-18-2009 Indiana:

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. - Authorities say an inmate diagnosed with major depression and schizophrenia died after falling from his wheelchair and hitting his head on the floor at a southern Indiana jail.

Sixty-six-year-old Preston Shaw was being held on a sexual battery charge at the Clark County Jail in Jeffersonville when he fell Friday, then died the following day. Sheriff's Maj. Chuck Adams says Shaw had been returned to the jail Oct. 30 after undergoing treatment and evaluation at Evansville State Hospital.

Defense attorney Jeff Stonebraker says Shaw's death appeared accidental.

Shaw was a nursing home resident when he was charged with abusing a female patient who was unable to speak or move. ..Source.. AP

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