Mentally Ill Inmate Dies of Thirst, 35 Days in Solitary Confinement (Video)

| by Michael Allen

Michael Kerr died of dehydration on March 12 after being held in solitary confinement at the Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville, N.C., for 35 days.

Kerr, 54, was found dead in the back of a prison van after being driven three hours to Central Prison in Raleigh, N.C. An autopsy released yesterday said that Kerr died of thirst.

So far, seven prison employees have been fired and two have resigned over Kerr's death.

“Anybody that had a hand in murdering my brother, they need to go to jail,” Kerr's sister Brenda Liles told WNCN (video below).

Kerr had a schizophrenic disorder, but was not given any medication for it in jail, noted the autopsy.

“I was calling the prison and fighting for my brother," recalled Liles. "They said they were going to get him some medical attention, but they didn't do it."

Kerr was sentenced to 31 years in jail for larceny and assault because he was also convicted of being a "habitual felon" in 2011.

According to prison officials, Kerr was placed in "administrative segregation" (solitary confinement) Feb. 5-25 and "disciplinary segregation" (solitary confinement) Feb. 25-March 12.

The Associated Press reports that Kerr flooded his cell twice while in solitary, but prison workers are allowed to turn off a prisoner's water for "misuse of plumbing" under state law.

Frank L. Perry, the State Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, says he has ordered an investigation, but his office is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice.

A federal grand jury issued two subpoenas to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety for records on Kerr on Wednesday. The subpoenas say that the FBI is now "conducting an investigation of suspected criminal activity."

W. David Guice, State Commissioner of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice, told the Associated Press that the water in Kerr's cell "had not been turned off in the days immediately preceding his death."

However, North Carolina officials refuse to say exactly when the water was turned off to Kerr's cell or whether or not Kerr was chained up in his jail cell.

In the face of this overwhelming non-disclosure and federal criminal investigation, Guice recently stated, “From the start, we have been committed to finding out exactly what happened in this case and in taking appropriate administrative and operational actions."

Sources: Associated Press, WNCN