SBI Taking Over Inquiry Into Teen's Death Inside Durham Jail | News
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Friday, March 24, 2017

SBI Taking Over Inquiry Into Teen's Death Inside Durham Jail

Posted by on Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 7:20 PM

Sheriff Mike Andrews is asking the State Bureau of Investigation to take over the inquiry into a seventeen-year-old's death at the Durham County Jail.

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The Sheriff's Office released a report Friday on Uniece Glenae Fennell's apparent suicide. On the form, Interim Detention Director Major Julian Couch lists Fennell's cause of death as suicide and means of death as "tied sheet around middle window bar." Fennell was not under suicide watch, the Sheriff's Office said.

According to the form, Fennell was last seen alive by a jail employee at 2:18 a.m. Thursday during rounds. She was found lifeless thirty mintues later, the report says, and paramedics attempted to revive her. She was pronounced dead an hour later. The Office of the State Medical Examiner is conducting an autopsy.

Initially, the Sheriff's Office said it would investigate Fennell's death, per standard procedure.

"I am confident in our investigators and the reporting process set by the State," Andrews said in the statement, "However, I also want the public to be confident in our findings. To remove doubt and speculation, the Sheriff’s Office has decided to ask the State Bureau of Investigation to investigate the unfortunate suicide of Uniece Fennell, and the events leading up to her death at the Durham County Detention Facility."

In the statement, the Sheriff's Office also acknowledged reports that Fennell had complained about inappropriate comments made by a detention officer. WRAL reports that Fennell's attorney had emailed the sheriff about the comments less than a day before her death.

The Sheriff's Office says Fennell did not file a formal complaint and that the detention officer who allegedly made the comments had resigned two weeks before the attorney's complaint was sent.

Fennell was jailed July 26 after being charged in connection with the murder of nineteen-year-old Andre Bond.

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