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Pregnant murder suspect facing assault charges


A pregnant Ironton woman being held in the Lawrence County Jail on a murder charge is facing new charges after she allegedly tried to choke a jail matron Wednesday morning.

Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless said he does not have a firm reason as to why Ashley Seagraves, 23, of 214 1/2 Pearl St., Ironton allegedly assaulted the matron, but suspects drugs may have something to do with it.

“She’s de-toxing from drugs and has some emotional issues with the drug withdrawl,” Lawless said. “This was out of the blue. But she seems to not be rational right now.”

Lawless said Seagraves has admitted to his staff she has been abusing oxycontin.

The sheriff said the matron, whom he declined to name, was not injured in the incident.

Lawless said the matron had gone into the cell where Seagraves is being held to conduct jail business and Seagraves grabbed the matron and tried to choke her. Other corrections officers came to the matron’s rescue.

Lawless said Seagraves, who is seven months pregnant, has been given medical attention, including a doctor visit, because of her pregnancy and drug addiction and out of concern for her unborn child.

A pregnant prisoner, along with another prisoner who has trouble walking and some with diabetes and other chronic conditions, puts a strain on Lawless, his staff and facilities, the sheriff said. The Lawrence County Jail, built to house 55 inmates, sometimes holds more than 80 people.

“We don’t have room for a medical ward; we’re overcrowded and there’s just no place in our jail to house these kinds of medical conditions,” Lawless said.

Lawless said he is checking to see if any other jails around the state can take a heavily pregnant inmate. Larger jails often have medical facilities within their walls but may not want to take another county’s prisoner.

There is a real likelihood the woman will give birth while she is in jail and this presents another problem. She will have to be taken to a hospital 35 miles away in Scioto County because Ohio inmates can’t be taken out of state because the warrant can’t be enforced in another state; once the inmate is taken out of state, they are no longer considered arrested.

If the woman is taken to Scioto County to a hospital there, she would have to be guarded around the clock by Lawrence County staffers for as long as she is there, thus driving up overtime costs for a jail and sheriff’s office that officials say is already underfunded, overstaffed and overworked.

The child cannot stay in the jail once it is born and the matter of who cares for it while the mother is incarcerated in the Lawrence County Jail will be determined by Lawrence County Children’s Services, Lawless said.

Seagraves was arrested Sunday and charged with murder in the shooting death of Delmar Jenkins, of Mullinsville.