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Wednesday, 17 August 2011 13:12

SBI won’t investigate Haywood jail death

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The state will not investigate the death of Jessica Martin, who died last week after collapsing in a holding cell at the Haywood County Justice Center.

“The State Bureau of Investigation is not planning to open an investigation at this time, given the results of the autopsy,” said Noelle Talley, a spokesperson for the N.C. Department of Justice, in a voicemail message.

The autopsy report hasn’t been completed or publicly released, but Talley said the justice department received preliminary information that helped them make their decision.

Martin died on Aug. 10 at MedWest Haywood after emergency services were called to the courthouse around noon that day, but no cause of death has yet been released.

Haywood County Sheriff Bobby Suttles said that Martin had been seen, at least once, by the nurse kept on staff at the jail before she was sent to the courthouse to await her appearance. The nurse determined that Martin didn’t need to go to the hospital.

Martin fell ill before making it to the courtroom, and life-support measures were started when the ambulance arrived.

Martin was a 20-year-old Haywood County native and Pisgah High School graduate who was in the county’s jail because she didn’t show up for a court date in late July.

The charge was a holdover from her sole conviction, a 2008 drug paraphernalia charge, to which she pleaded guilty.

She was given a year of unsupervised probation and ordered to pay a fine of $331. But she never paid, and then missed both resulting court dates, in February and July.

She had been in the jail for five days before her death, and Suttles asked the SBI for an investigation.

“That’s just standard procedure for us,” said Suttles. “Not every time, but almost every time, we request the SBI.”

Martin is survived by a two-year-old son, Dillon, as well as her mother and several grandparents, all of whom live in Haywood County.

Her father, who operated heavy machinery for a local construction company, died last year.

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