Family of dead inmate will keep waiting on $1.1M
Family members of Kenneth Trentadue, who died in controversial circumstances at a federal holding cell in Oklahoma City, must wait longer to see if they receive $1.1 million in damages from federal authorities.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Tuesday sent the case back, for the second time, for more work by U.S. District Judge Tim Leonard in Oklahoma City. Five family members of Trentadue sued the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which operates the inmate transfer center, and the FBI, which investigated the death.
Leonard in 2001 concluded federal authorities intentionally inflicted severe emotion distress on the family members with "the reckless way” in which federal authorities treated them in the weeks and months after Trentadue's death. The judge awarded the damages. The federal government appealed.
In 2004, the Denver-based appeals court agreed with Leonard the conduct of federal authorities was "outrageous.” The appellate judges set aside the damages and told Leonard to reopen the case to make "explicit findings as to the severity” of the emotional distress suffered by the family members who sued.
In 2005, Leonard concluded their emotional distress "was so severe that no reasonable persons could be expected to endure it” and reinstated his award of $1.1 million.
The federal authorities appealed again, saying Leonard did not make explicit findings on each of the five family members.
In Tuesday's 10-page decision, the appellate judges faulted Leonard for not following the appeals court's 2005 instructions.
Trentadue, 44, was found hanging from a braided bed sheet in 1995 at the federal inmate transfer center. His body had massive, bloody injuries. Federal authorities called Trentadue's death a suicide. Family members contend he was beaten to death. That dispute is not specifically part of the family members' lawsuit.
Special Correspondent Robert Boczkiewicz
McVeigh attorney to defend Kelsey's mom
Well-known attorney Stephen Jones said Tuesday he has been hired to represent the mother of Kelsey Smith-Briggs.
Jones met with Raye Dawn Smith for an hour Monday in jail in Sapulpa. He said he was hired by her family last week.
Jurors on July 18 found Smith guilty of enabling child abuse. They voted on a punishment of 27 years in prison. Formal sentencing is set for Aug. 23 in Bristow.
Jones said he may request a new trial and will handle Smith's appeal, if necessary. He may seek a delay of the sentencing.