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Family: Inmate didn't get help he needed

PARIS — Daniel Trimble tried to slit his wrists with a razor blade shortly after he was booked at the Bourbon County jail last fall. Jail officials sent Trimble to the Comprehensive Care Center for a mental evaluation, according to documents filed in Bourbon Circuit Court.

David E. Hanna, a clinical psychologist, wrote in a letter to a judge last September that the 28-year-old was a high-risk inmate for suicide. Trimble had been admitted to Eastern State Hospital multiple times, had tried to hang himself at least once, and had paranoid delusions, "believing that guards and police planned to kill him."

The letter added: "Jail staff should be aware of the possibility that he would use anything he has in his possession as a weapon against himself."

On Feb. 15, Trimble was found dead in his cell, hanging from a bedsheet.

The circumstances surrounding Trimble's death are now under investigation by state police, who appear to be focusing on how jail officials handled the case.

Trimble's family members say they're troubled by the jail's actions before and after Trimble's death.

"When I went out there ... for people not even to say 'We're sorry for your loss,' and they just look at you and basically throw stuff in your arms and push you out the door; they don't care, they don't care about anyone in there," said Samantha True, 26, Trimble's sister, who went to the jail after her brother's death to get his belongings. "And I know that people think people in jail are bad, but people make mistakes and they are human."

Police have released few details about the investigation, and jail officials will not discuss it.

An affidavit for a search warrant, filed this month in Bourbon District Court, alleges that on the day of Trimble's death, Jailer Tony Horn asked Chief Deputy Jailer Sandy Dotson to delete an e-mail alerting staff to Trimble's request for medical care.

The affidavit also alleges Dotson asked a jail deputy to fill out a suicide-watch report after Trimble — who had been booked at the jail since Aug. 7, 2007, on a charge of fourth-degree assault — died.

Trimble's mother, Charlene Morris, 46, was at times overcome with emotion as she and True talked about her son's death.

Trimble's ashes rest in a box on an end table in the living room. His mother plans to put them in an urn in the Paris cemetery when the family is able to afford it.

Trimble was the oldest of three children. He grew up in Paris and liked the outdoors, fishing, and drawing. Morris still has a drawing Trimble made on the back of an envelope: two hands holding a cross with the words "in God's hands."

Trimble's family contacted Michael Cooper, a Louisville attorney, shortly after Trimble died, because "we just want to find out what happened because we think that's what my brother deserves," True said.

Cooper said his office has hired a private investigator to look into the case.

"While we had turned up a lot of the information, I think the KSP investigation has really now solidified what occurred at the jail with regards to Daniel's death," Cooper said.

Despite warnings that he was a suicide risk, Trimble was placed in an isolated cell with a sheet, Cooper said. He used the sheet to hang himself from a vent, Morris said she was told.

Morris said she was told by a former inmate who was in the cell with her son that the jail could not afford $600 for Trimble's medication and stopped giving it to him. If his medication was out of balance or denied, Cooper said, it could have led to Trimble's suicide.

Cooper said he has some of Trimble's medical records and was still investigating whether Trimble had been denied medication.

Dotson declined to comment through a jail staff member. Horn declined to comment about the investigation, but in a previous interview he told a Herald-Leader reporter, "I've done nothing wrong, personally."

No charges have been filed against anyone at the jail.

Bourbon County Judge-Executive Donnie Foley did not return phone messages.

According to records from the Administrative Office of the Courts, Trimble had an extensive felony and misdemeanor criminal history dating back to 1999. He had been in and out of jail for an array of charges such as domestic violence, alcohol intoxication and drug possession.

Three days before he was found dead, Trimble had been indicted for second-degree assault against another inmate and threatening Judge Vanessa Dickson.

An emergency protective order was filed last October by Morris, who said Trimble threatened her, True and his brother. The three cases were dismissed after his death.

Morris said she believes her son's criminal and violent past was due to his mental illness. Trimble should have been in a hospital to get the help that he needed, she said.

"If he took his medicine, he wouldn't have done the things he done," Morris said.

Despite her brother's record, True said, "I just want them to know that my brother was not a bad person."

"He made mistakes and, yes, he was in jail, but everyone is human and everybody makes mistakes ... who is to say that he wasn't going to change his life?" she said. "We'll never know because he's not here with us. They took that from us."

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