Autopsy: Inmate died from drug overdose

Published 10:29 am Tuesday, December 6, 2011

An overdose of Oxycodone caused the death of an inmate who died at the Lawrence County Jail in October.

Timothy M. Conwell, 38, of Willow Wood, was found dead in the drunk tank at the jail in the early morning of Sunday, Oct. 16, by sheriff’s deputies.

A Franklin County Coroner’s report showed that Conwell died of “acute Oycondone intoxication,” according to Bill Nenni, an investigator for Lawrence County Coroner Dr. Kurt Hofmann.

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There was “a level present that was consistent with lethal concentration,” Nenni said.

Conwell was picked up at the Comfort Inn and Suites in Chesapeake on the Saturday prior to the day of his death.

The man had slurred speech, a staggering walk and gave the appearance of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Sheriff Jeff Lawless said at the time.

Conwell had no identification on him but the deputy at the scene recognized him. Conwell said he was looking for a place to stay. He had to turn himself into the sheriff’s office on Monday because he had been sentenced to prison to serve an eight-year sentence on drug charges.

The man could not get a room at the hotel because he did not have proper identification and his brother, when contacted by deputies, would not allow him to stay with him. Friends also refused to take the man in.

The sheriff’s office also contacted other area hotels, all refused. After he was arrested Conwell was booked and taken to the drunk tank.

He was conscious at that time. Jail officials said they checked on the man throughout the night and about an hour before his death he was sleeping and snoring.

Death from an Oxycodone overdose mainly comes from respiratory depression, according to Hofmann.

“Your breathing becomes more shallow and you stop breathing,” he said.

Also according to the autopsy Conwell had a history of hypertension and an enlarged heart. However those conditions would have had minimal effect as far as causing his death, Hofmann said. “Our officers and agency did everything we could for Mr. Conwell,” Lawless said on Monday. “It wasn’t our intention to take him to jail. We tried to find several places for him to spend the night. There was no way for us to know what he had taken prior to us.

“We tried to help this man. The circumstances were beyond our control. This man was already going to prison for a drug crime. It is a terrible situation this man was in.”