Jail hanging ruled suicide, police still investigating

Published 5:08 pm Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A man who was found hanged in the city jail here was ruled a suicide by an autopsy.

Police are still investigating the death of Robert James Smith, 18, who was booked on two counts of armed robbery.

Smith was found Friday with a noose fashioned from a blanket tied around his neck with the other end tied to the top bunk’s rail. He was alone at the time he died, police said Friday.

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Jackson County Coroner Vicki Broadus said there were no suspicious circumstances that would lead her to believe this was anything but a suicide.

Smith had a pulse when he was discovered, but paramedics’ efforts to save him failed and he was pronounced dead at Singing River Hospital.

In addition to the autopsy performed by the coroner, police are conducting an internal and also an independent investigation. Police declined comment on the case Saturday.

A jailer saw Smith at 10:50 a.m. on Friday, when his cellmate was handed over to federal agents. A second jailer saw him between 11:20 and 11:30 a.m., but he was found hanged at 11:47 a.m.