Sheriff's Office cleared in suicide probe


— The Routt County Sheriff's Office has been cleared by the state District Attorney's office of any criminal liability stemming from the death of an inmate in October.

After reviewing an investigation led by Steamboat Springs Detective Robert DelValle, District Attorney Paul R. McLimans has concluded the death of Jared Wayne Maynard was self-inflicted.

"I did not find any indication there was foul play involved or anything that suggested this was anything but a suicide," McLimans said.

McLimans made the determination once he received the medical examiner's report at the end of December that was done by a Denver forensic pathologist, Dr. Ben Galloway.

"The autopsy report did not indicate anything other than he died from the injuries suffered from the hanging incident," McLimans said.

According to the autopsy, Maynard died of "asphyxiation secondary to strangulation by hanging with a sheet ligature."

The 20-year-old Houston, Texas, native died Oct. 31 at the Denver Health Medical Center after life-support measures were removed at the request of his family.

Maynard hanged himself in a jail cellblock the evening of Oct. 29.

His father, William Maynard, could not be reached for comment.

Sheriff John Warner is pleased with McLimans' review of the case.

"I felt comfortable that there was no criminal wrongdoing from the start," Warner said. "The policies and procedures we have in place were followed. I did not suspect we had done anything criminally wrong.

"We did everything we could to follow policies and procedures and the investigation shows that."

Maynard tied a bed linen to a second floor railing in cellblock A to hang himself. He was found not breathing, but medical personnel were able to revive him. He was flown to the Denver hospital later in the evening.

After the incident, Warner asked J.D. Hays, Steamboat Springs director of public services, to assign a detective within his department to investigate the matter.

"I did not want to be in the position that we would be investigating ourself," Warner said. "I wanted to ensure that no one could point the finger that we were investigating ourself."

Hays assigned DelValle, the lead detective in the Steamboat Springs department, to handle the investigation. The veteran detective was assisted by Sheriff's Investigator Rachelle Redmond.

DelValle, who interviewed deputies and inmates present during the incident, was not surprised with McLimans' decision.

"It was a very comprehensive investigation, especially when you consider someone died in a government institution," DelValle said. "We did a thorough investigation."

McLimans examined a stack of paperwork, listened to taped interviews and visited the cellblock where the hanging took place.

"They did a complete investigation," McLimans said. "From my perspective, I don't know what else can be done."

As a result of Maynard's death, Warner and his staff reviewed the jail's policies and procedures. After a review of those practices, no changes will be made, Warner said.

"It was very unfortunate that a life was lost," Warner said. "It has impacted myself and staff. It is tragic.

"In review of our policies and procedures, we feel we have an adequate policy to handle those individuals."

At the time of the suicide, Maynard was beginning an 18-month sentence in the county jail. He was serving time for an August incident where he assaulted a paramedic and stole an ambulance.

The incident happened on the Colorado Mountain College campus, where Maynard had enrolled as a student.

Maynard hanged himself four days after state District Judge Joel S. Thompson handed down the jail term.

A mental health evaluation was done on Maynard following the Oct. 26 sentencing hearing.

The report concluded Maynard was not a threat to himself or others. Maynard was placed in cellblock A with two other inmates. The two-floor cellblock consists of four jail cells and a commons area, which is on the first floor.

"The level of security we provided was based on the evaluation mental health did," Warner said.

Maynard's cellmates were not present when he hanged himself. The inmates had left the cellblock to workout in a recreation room.

Maynard tied one side of his bed linen around his neck and the other end to the railing outside his jail cell.

Jail cells remain open during the daytime, so inmates have access to the commons area. Next to the jail cell occupied by Maynard, a staircase leads to the first floor.

The night of the hanging, Sgt. Gerard Geis was monitoring 40 inmates in five cellblocks from the control room. For Geis to have seen Maynard, he would have had to have been looking directly at the cellblock that is situated on the end, Warner said.

Geis saw Maynard hanging from the railing as he was checking on the two inmates in the recreation room, which is right next to cellblock A.

Although policies will not be changing, Warner will be putting video cameras in cellblocks.

"In last year's budget, we decided to put video cameras in the cellblocks," Warner said. "We are working with consultants at this time. I expect for the new system to be in place by April or May."

Warner believes the cameras will give deputies better views of the cellblocks but does not believe the cameras would have prevented Maynard's death.

"Once he made up his mind to do what he did, I don't think we could have stopped him," Warner said. "It is just one of those times that an individual made a decision. In a lot of times, there is no stopping that sort of thing."


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