Original article no longer available
Montana’s News Station
Posted: Sep 8, 2008 11:47 AM CDT
Reporting from Z7 in Bozeman
A jury has issued a ruling in coroner’s inquest into the death of a Manhattan woman who was found dead in her jail cell in the Gallatin County Detention Center.
Christina McLinden died from a self-inflicted injury during a non-criminal act, the jury determined Friday, according to Park County Coroner Al Jenkins who presided over the inquest.
It’s been more than five months since McLinden was found dead in her jail cell.
Authorities arrested and charged McLinden on March 19 with four felonies related to theft for allegedly stealing more than $140,000 from her Manhattan employer.
Five days later, on March 24, jail staff found the woman dead in her cell with an apparent farewell note to her husband in her front pocket.
During last week’s proceeding, investigators said McLinden hanged herself from the top of a wash basin in her cell, using a piece of her bed sheet.
“There was an obvious indented abrasion around her neck. This was the first jail death that I’ve investigated that I saw that particular trauma go all the way around the neck and leave a mark, which is an indication the ligatures were extremely tight,” said Lee Johnson of the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation.
McLinden had attempted suicide prior to her arrest and was taking medication to deal with depression, difficulty sleeping and bipolar disorder, according to testimony.
But investigators said McLinden was not on her medication once she was behind bars because her husband did not bring the pills to the jail.
McLinden’s husband said he was not aware of the legal or financial trouble his wife was in until she was arrested and that he did not know he could give her the prescription drugs while she was behind bars.
Gallatin County Sheriff Jim Cashell, who is in charge of the jail, and also the county coroner, did not investigate McLinden’s death because it would be considered a conflict of interest.
A coroner’s inquest is required by state law to examine all deaths that occur inside a jail.