Court to decide on sheriff’s trial in Oklahoma inmate death
ENID, Okla. (AP) — A prosecutor asked the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to decide whether a sheriff will go to trial over the death of an inmate who spent more than two days in a restraint chair.
Special prosecutor Chris Boring made the request Wednesday, a month after a judge dismissed the case against Garfield County Sheriff Jerry Niles, citing a lack of evidence that the sheriff committed a crime, The Oklahoman reported . The judge sent three others to trial over the June 2016 death of Anthony Huff, 58.
Niles, 60, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree manslaughter . Former jail administrator Jennifer Shay Niles, who is the sheriff’s daughter-in-law, and jailers John Robert Markus and Shawn Galusha are charged with first-degree manslaughter.
An autopsy reported listed Huff’s probable cause of death as chronic alcoholism. He was arrested for public intoxication.
A reviewing judge last week upheld the dismissal of the case against the sheriff, saying there was no evidence that Jerry Niles knew the inmate had been restrained in the chair. Custer County Associate District Judge Jill Weedon noted that the sheriff’s office is about 7 miles (11 kilometers) from the jail and that that prosecutors did not prove the sheriff personally or administratively violated jail standards.
In his request to the appeals court, Boring wrote, “It was (an) error to determine that there was no criminal liability for the sheriff in regards to violations of the Oklahoma Jail Standards and actions or inactions by his employees.”
Niles still faces a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing Garfield County officials of negligence in Huff’s death and of violating his constitutional rights. The sheriff also faces a misdemeanor nepotism case for appointing the employment of his son and daughter-in-law.
Niles is on voluntary paid suspension.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com