DA: No connection between 5 deaths at jail - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

DA: No connection between 5 deaths at jail

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WASHINGTON COUNTY, TN (WJHL) - One day after going to jail for a probation violation a Washington County jail inmate is dead.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is now looking into the death of Donna Patillo, 51, of Johnson City.

Patillo's death is the fifth in the jail this year. Aaron Bever, Charles Young III, Stewart Peppers and Jay Davis all died in the jail between January and June of this year.

4:43 Tuesday afternoon, that's when the Washington County Sheriff's Office said a deputy made her hourly rounds past Donna Patillo's cell. They said Patillo was alive and well.

"She was never actually part of the jail or part of population or anything like that she was just waiting on a ride to Sumner County," said Sheriff Ed Graybeal.

Nine minutes later, at 4:52 P.M., deputies went back to her cell to take her dinner.
Detention Center Administrator Brenda Downes told News Channel 11 a deputy, "pulled this down to put the tray on she looked inside the inmate was bent over. She immediately called for medical which is a 'code blue'. Medical responded within a minute and 30 seconds."

Graybeal said they had no idea about Patillo's extensive medical history.  "Our medical came in when she came in and she was fine," he said.

As a Sumner County deputy was pulling into pick up Patillo, she leaving the detention center in an ambulance.

"She was still breathing when she left here at the Washington County Detention Center," said Downes.

At 5:35 P.M., 43 minutes after Patillo was first seen slumped over in her cell, she was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

"8,000 people last year that we booked in and booked out," said Graybeal. "Like I said you never know the problems that somebody has when they come in here."

While T.B.I. continues their investigation, Graybeal attributes Patillo's death to "medical problems".

Patillo is the fifth person to die this year at the detention center, but at this time District Attorney General Tony Clark doesn't see a connection.

Both Jay Davis and Aaron Bever died from hanging.

The autopsy report for Charles Young III said he died from massive heart attack.

The cause of death has not been released on Stewart Peppers.  His parents filed a lawsuit in July seeking $20 million in compensatory damages, and an additional one million dollars for loss consortium.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege the corrections officers strapped Peppers to a restraint chair and struck him repeatedly in the face while also using chemical spray and electrical tasers.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office responded stating "the defendants did not beat Mr. Peppers to death".

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