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Inmate stabbed to death at Marion County Jail

Review underway into Marion County Jail suicides
Posted at 2:05 PM, Oct 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-17 14:05:12-04

INDIANAPOLIS — For the second time in a week, an inmate at the Marion County Jail has died after apparently being assaulted by another inmate.

According to a report from the Marion County Sheriff's Office, an inmate was found unresponsive early Saturday morning and pronounced dead a short time later.

A spokesperson for the sheriff's office said James Smith, 51, of Sullivan County, was found unresponsive around 12:50 a.m. Saturday. He was pronounced dead at 1:08 a.m.

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The sheriff's office said the cause of death appears to be an inmate-on-inmate stabbing with an improvised weapon. The incident is under investigation by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, the Marion County Sheriff's Office, the Marion County Coroner's Office, and the Marion County Forensic Services Agency.

Deputies said Smith had been transferred to multiple housing locations for using racially-charged language toward fellow inmates. At the time of his death, Smith had been assigned to a single cell.

According to the sheriff's office, Smith had been in custody since Aug. 22. Sullivan County court records show that upon his recent release from the Indiana Department of Correction, Smith had allegedly threatened to kill his mother. He was being held in the Marion County Jail for Sullivan County on two charges of intimidation, each a level 6 felony.

It was the second deadly incident involving inmates at the Marion County Jail in the span of a week. On Oct. 10, Martin Cruz, 38, was found unresponsive in his cell and was transported to an area hospital where he died an hour later. Police said he was assaulted by another inmate.