Perry County grand jury to hear jail-death case

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comJuly 30, 2013 

A Perry County grand jury is set to hear testimony about the death of an inmate involved in an altercation with two deputy jailers who have since been suspended, officials said.

Larry Trent, 54, of Hazard died July 9 at the Kentucky River Regional Jail in Perry County after an altercation with two deputy jailers, police and jail officials have said.

"We brought this to the attention of the grand jury," Perry Commonwealth's Attorney John Hansen said in a telephone interview. Hansen stopped short of saying the grand jury was investigating the case, but he said the grand jury was preparing to hear testimony, as it does in every felony case.

"This matter is being given quite a bit of attention," Hansen said. Subpoenas had been served, he said.

Trent suffered injuries in a "jail beating," according to a preliminary report from the state associate chief medical examiner's office. The Perry County coroner's office released the report to the Herald-Leader in response to an open-records request.

The preliminary report said the immediate cause of death was "blunt impact of head, trunk and extremities," with multiple skeletal and organ injuries. Trent's pelvis also was injured, according to the report.

The report said the determination of manner of death — including whether it was an accident or a homicide — is pending. The report said information was incomplete pending toxicology results and an investigation into the circumstances. Obtaining conclusive results could take a few more months, Perry Deputy Coroner Brianna Rutherford said in an interview.

Jail officials had reported to Kentucky State Police that Trent was found unresponsive in his cell at 10:50 a.m. on July 9.

Trent was taken to the Hazard ARH Medical Center, where Rutherford said he was pronounced dead at 12:20 p.m.

The preliminary investigation found that an altercation occurred between Trent and jail staff at 7:18 a.m. on July 9, according to a state police news release.

Trent was restrained by jail staff and was placed back in his assigned holding cell, the news release said. That was where they found him unresponsive later in the morning, according to the news release.

According to Perry District Court officials, Trent had been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol on July 5 and had entered a not-guilty plea on July 8. His trial had been set for Sept. 24.

The preliminary medical examiner's report also said Trent had a significant condition of chronic alcohol abuse.

In an interview Tuesday, jail administrator Tim Kilburn declined to comment on specifics of the case and would not identify the deputy jailers who he said had been suspended.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 231-3409. Twitter: @vhspears.

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