An independent investigation into the death of an inmate last year in the Greene County jail found insufficient evidence to support criminal charges to be filed against any person at the jail, prosecutors said Tuesday.
The 2nd Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s office and Prosecuting Attorney Sonia Fonticiella released a statement about the case involving Marshall Price.
Price, 46, of Paragould had been sentenced to 10 years in prison in November on a drug trafficking related charge when he reported a medical emergency to jail staff in December.
“Here, there is no evidence that any person acted with criminal negligence to support a charge and prosecution for the death of Mr. Price. The undisputed statements are that Mr. Price participated in a consensual boxing match with another inmate at the Greene County Jail,” the statement from Fonticiella said. “Mr. Price complained to other inmates of an injury, but prior to December 7, 2022, that injury was not reported to jail staff. After thorough review of the investigation into Mr. Price’s death, no criminal charges will be filed.”
The Arkansas State Police did an investigation into Price’s Dec. 7 death. Officials said special agents did several interviews with inmates about Price’s death, with inmates saying Price had been consensually boxing with fellow inmate Odell Lewis.
An online jail roster showed that someone with Lewis’ name had been booked into the jail Aug. 23 on suspicion of possession of a firearm by certain persons.
The inmates told authorities that Price and Lewis had been boxing three days before Price’s death.
“These inmates stated they did not witness the boxing match, but Price told them about it. Before his death, Price complained to other inmates that his ribs and stomach hurt due to the boxing,” prosecutors said in the statement Tuesday. “He also disclosed to other inmates that he had sustained an injury to his abdominal area before he came into custody.”
Investigators also spoke with Lewis about the case.
“During an interview with Odell Lewis, Lewis admitted he and Price had boxed. Lewis said the boxing match occurred in his cell the Sunday before Price died. Lewis said they placed toilet paper rolls on their hands and covered them with socks for boxing gloves and inmates would swap blows until one person gave up,” prosecutors said. “Lewis said Price quit after getting hit twice and said he had hurt his ribs before coming into custody.”
Lewis told authorities that the boxing match was mutual and that they were not “trying to hurt each other,” prosecutors said, noting Price did not report the injuries to medical staff.
At around 10:55 a.m., Dec. 7, authorities said an emergency intercom call was made after Price fell and hit his head.
“The Detention Center staff responded and found Price with a laceration on the back of his head. Several inmates reported to investigators that Price had fallen in his cell. The laceration was treated, and Price was given fluids and told to rest,” officials said in the statement.
Price requested medical staff around 4:30 p.m. that day and was taken by wheelchair to the infirmary.
“It was decided to take Price to the hospital by transport van. Price’s condition continued to deteriorate, so an ambulance was called and he was transported to Arkansas Methodist Medical Center where he later died,” officials said.
Officials said Tuesday that Price’s autopsy reports showed his cause of death to be “hypovolemic shock due to hemoperitoneum due to recent blunt force injuries of the torso.”
The report also listed contributory causes of splenomegaly and hepatic cirrhosis, with the manner of death listed as “undetermined.”
Fonticiella said in the statement Tuesday that several prosecutors reviewed the information in the case and looked at all criminal statutes, including all homicide statutes in the state.
“The nature of these events negates any intent to harm Mr. Price even under A.C.A. 5-10-105(b), Negligent Homicide. To proceed with a prosecution under 5-10-105, prosecutors must first establish beyond a reasonable doubt that “the person negligently causes the death of another person.”
According to state law, negligence must be shown “with respect to attendant circumstances or a result of his or her conduct when the person should be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the attendant circumstance exist, or the result will occur,” or “that the risk must be of such a nature and degree that the actor’s failure to perceive the risk involves a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the actor’s situation considering the nature and purpose of the actor’s conduct and the circumstances known to the actor.”
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