Family disputes inmate’s autopsy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 24, 2004

A state autopsy report concluded that a 20-year-old inmate of the Shelby County Jail died of a massive staph infection, but the inmate’s family members dispute the report.

An autopsy completed by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences last week revealed that Clint Arlo Morris died from a staph infection.

District Attorney Robby Owens said medical records also show that Morris had hepatitis C.

Following Morris’ death Monday, Aug. 16, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, Owens directed the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences to conduct the autopsy.

Sheriff Chris Curry also requested an investigation into events surrounding Morris’ death by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation.

&uot;ABI has confirmed they are going to investigate it at our request,&uot; Curry said Monday.

Some of Morris’ relatives claimed that he died from an infection that occurred as a result of a fight in the county jail. Darlene Simpson, Morris’ aunt, said he was not treated properly at the jail following the fight.

One day after his arrest for traffic violations on July 17, Morris was involved in a fight with another inmate in the jail.

He was hospitalized a week later after complaining of pain and swelling in his neck. Morris spent three weeks in critical care at UAB before his death Aug. 16.

Despite the autopsy report, however, Simpson continues to claim her nephew died from injuries he received during the fight.

She said a doctor who treated Morris told her he died from an absess that formed near the injury on his neck. The absess burst and the infection spread through Morris’s body, according to Simpson.

She contends that contract medical staff at the jail waited too long to treat her nephew.

Sheriff’s officials have said, however, Morris refused treatment following the fight.

The county has built a new jail in Columbiana, and staff are still working to get inmates transferred to the new facility on McDow Road.

On Monday, jail commander Wayne Watts said staff members were still fine-tuning security in preparation for inmates at the new jail.

He said staff members were installing computer equipment, checking doors and completing staff training at the new training center.

Capt. Chris Corbell of the Sheriff’s Office said he hopes to have inmates in the new jail in couple of weeks