06-22 Rhonda Newsome-01

Rhonda Newsome

An Anderson County Grand Jury, deliberating for a second time on the custodial death of jail prisoner Rhonda Newsome, again found no criminal wrongdoing by the sheriff's office, medical staff, or jail employees.

Members of the Grand Jury made their determination last week, after hearing additional information from Chris Baggett, an investigator for the Texas Rangers, District Attorney Allyson Mitchell said. Mitchell said Thursday further details about the proceedings were confidential.

In August, Texas Rangers re-opened the investigation into criminal wrongdoing. The initial investigation into the June 15, 2018, death closed in May. It found no criminal wrongdoing by the sheriff's office or its medical contractor, TAKET Holdings.

The re-opening of the investigation this summer suggested law enforcement could have found new evidence that the negligence that contributed to, or caused, Newsome's death rose to the level of a crime. Texas Department of Public Safety officials, however, declined to say what prompted the Rangers to re-open the investigation.

Texas Rangers routinely investigate deaths in county jails statewide. The investigations focus on criminal wrongdoing only, not negligence that could be tried in civil court.

A pre-trial detainee, Newsome, 50, died in a county jail holding cell, roughly three months after she was jailed on assault charges, stemming from a family dispute.

The initial investigation by the Texas Rangers, while finding no criminal wrongdoing, showed clear evidence of neglect.

The Rangers' report, obtained in June by the Herald-Press through a freedom-of-information request, stated Newsome died nearly seven hours after Palestine Regional Medical Center alerted the jail nurse that Newsome's blood test results indicated she was in imminent danger of death without immediate medical attention.

The investigation also found jail staff tried to use a malfunctioning defibrillator on Newsome.

In August, a $10-million wrongful-death lawsuit was filed in federal court by Newsome's family. The wrongful-death suit names as defendants Anderson County, TAKET Holdings, registered nurse Tim Green, Dr. Adam Corley, and Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor, both individually and in his role as sheriff.

A coroner's report concluded Newsome suffered from multiple health issues, including hypertension and Addison's disease. She also had a history of mental illness. 

Palestine attorneys Charles Nichols, Dan Scarborough, and Donald Larkin represent Newsome's family.

Several former jail prisoners told the Herald-Press that Newsome pleaded for hospital treatment for several days before she died.

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