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Man dies in Saunders County custody

6-27-2010 Nebraska:

A month ago, Michael Ellis was arrested in Wahoo on suspicion of growing marijuana with intent to sell it.

Early Friday morning, Ellis, 46, died at Saunders County Medical Center after being taken there from the Saunders County jail.

Saunders County Sheriff Kevin L. Stukenholtz said in a news release that Ellis was taken from the jail to the hospital about 4:30 Friday morning and was pronounced dead about two hours later. Cause of death is unknown, Stukenholtz said in a news release, but a preliminary investigation indicated Ellis died of natural causes.

He was supposed to be in court Thursday for a preliminary hearing on the pot charges, but had asked earlier this month for a continuation until July 22, according to court records.

Ellis was on the Nebraska Sex Offender Registry for life, based on a 1998 conviction in Lancaster County for first-degree sexual assault and sexual assault of a child.

Nebraska State Patrol troopers visited Ellis's home in Wahoo on May 27, in part, to check his compliance with sex offender registry rules, when they smelled pot. A search turned up 72 plants, grow lights, chemicals and a watering system, according to court documents.

Ellis and Michelle Crawford, 41, were arrested and both had been in jail since.

An autopsy will be performed, as is required by state law any time someone dies in custody or in the process of being apprehended. ..Source.. by the Lincoln Journal Star

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