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No criminal charges will be filed in Garvin County death

Pregnant woman died in police custody
by Phillip O'Connor Published: March 27, 2013

— No criminal charges will be filed in the case of a woman who died in police custody after being arrested at a Garvin County hospital where she sought treatment for a problem pregnancy.

“We don't see any shred of evidence that even raises the specter of any crime,” First Assistant District Attorney Mark Gibson said Tuesday in announcing the decision.

On Jan. 2, Jamie Lynn Russell, 33, arrived by ambulance at Pauls Valley General Hospital complaining of stomach pain.

According to police, Russell was uncooperative with the staff and still complaining of pain when the hospital discharged her about 7:30 p.m.

Police then found two bottles of prescription pills that did not belong to her.

A doctor declared Russell fit for incarceration, and an officer arrested her on narcotics possession charges and took her to the Garvin County jail, where she was found unresponsive in a holding cell two hours later. About 11 p.m., an ambulance carried her back to the hospital. She was pronounced dead soon after arrival.

The state medical examiner ruled the cause of death was a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, a condition in which an embryo implants outside the womb. While fairly routine and easily diagnosable, the condition always is fatal for the baby, but the death of the mother is usually preventable.

A lawyer for Russell's family has said implications that Russell was a drug abuser were inaccurate and that a drug screen administered when Russell entered the hospital detected no drugs in her system.

Heather Mitchell, the attorney hired by Russell's family to investigate possible medical negligence, declined to comment on the district attorney's decision.

by Phillip O'Connor
Enterprise Editor
O'Connor joined the Oklahoman staff in June, 2012 after working at The Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch for a combined 28 years. O'Connor, an Oklahoma City resident, is a graduate of Kansas State University. He has written frequently...
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