Pharos-Tribune

December 31, 2013

Inmate dies at hospital after Monday's suicide attempt

Suicide attempt discovered after inmate returned from court.

By Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune
Pharos-Tribune

---- — A Cass County Jail inmate died Tuesday from injuries sustained during an attempt Monday to commit suicide.

Joseph Leazenby, 42, Logansport, was arraigned at 8 a.m. Monday in Cass County Superior Court I after being arrested Sunday on charges of possession of methamphetamine, unlawful possession of a syringe and possession of a synthetic drug, according to court records.

Cass County Sheriff Randy Pryor said a Cass County Department of Corrections officer discovered Leazenby had hanged himself with an article of jail-issued clothing in his intake cell at about 9 a.m. Monday, not long after being transported from court.

Pryor said he and a nurse on staff at the jail performed CPR on Leazenby before he was taken to Logansport Memorial Hospital. From there he was transported via helicopter to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne.

Pryor said he was advised by the Allen County Coroner’s Office that Leazenby died Tuesday afternoon.

The jail is equipped with 60 to 70 surveillance cameras, Pryor said.

”We do have a person watching the cameras, but they probably won’t see everything going on,” Pryor said. “We can go back and collect video at a certain time and certain place.”

Pryor added a camera is positioned near where Leazenby was held, but that it does not provide the best angle on the cell itself.

”During the process, it would have been difficult for anyone to see him,” Pryor said.

The incident is continuing to be investigated by the Cass County Sheriff’s Department.

”Staff acted quickly, distinctly and did what was necessary,” Pryor said. “Our goal here is to protect life as best we can.”

Pryor went on to call the incident “an unfortunate set of circumstances.”

”Our prayers go out to the family and relatives,” Pryor said.

No repercussions or retraining for jail staff have been called for at this time, Pryor went on to say. He said a report will be filed with the Indiana Department of Corrections and a federal agency, the name of which he could not recall.

Cass County Prosecutor Kevin Enyeart said he was not present during Leazenby’s arraignment but was briefed on it by Joseph Thieke, a county deputy prosecutor, who was handling the case.

Enyeart said probable cause for Leazenby’s three charges was determined during the arraignment and a court date was established for later on in the week.

Leazenby’s possession of methamphetamine charge would have come with a sentence of up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, if he was convicted.

Enyeart said he didn’t think Leazenby was on probation and court records accessible online through the Indiana State Court Administration do not indicate he was.

Upon hearing of Leazenby’s condition Monday, Enyeart said the prosecutor’s office made a request to the court that he be released of his own recognizance. The request was granted.

“Our office is extremely saddened by this turn of events,” Enyeart said. “Our heart goes out to the family.”

Pryor said there hasn’t been a suicide at the jail since he took over as sheriff in 2011.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com. Follow him: @PharosMAK