The Texas Rangers have re-opened an investigation into the June 15, 2018, death of prisoner Rhonda Newsome in the Anderson County Jail. The Rangers investigation, to determine whether the death involved criminal wrongdoing, closed in May and re-opened at the end of last month.
The initial investigation by the Texas Rangers found no criminal wrongdoing by the Anderson County Sheriff's Office or its medical contractor, TAKET Holdings. Based on that finding, an Anderson County grand jury in May also cleared the sheriff''s office of any criminal act.
Re-opening the investigation suggests the law enforcement agency could now have reason to believe the negligence that contributed to, or caused, Newsome's death could rise to the level of a crime.
A pre-trial detainee, Newsome, 50, died in the county jail roughly three months after she was jailed on assault charges stemming from a family dispute.
Texas Rangers routinely investigate any death in a Texas county jail. These investigations focus on criminal wrongdoing only, not negligence that could be tried in civil court.
In an email Friday, Texas Department of Public Safety officials confirmed the re-opening of the Newsome investigation, but declined to say what prompted it.
The initial investigation by the Texas Rangers, while finding no criminal wrongdoing, found clear evidence of neglect.
The Rangers' report, obtained in June by the Herald-Press through a freedom-of-information request, stated Newsome, 50, died nearly seven hours after Palestine Regional Medical Center alerted jail medical staff that Newsome's blood test results indicated she was in imminent danger of death without immediate medical care.
The investigation also found jail staff tried to use a malfunctioning defibrillator on Newsome, after they found her “unresponsive” at about 5 p.m.
Last month, a $10-million wrongful-death lawsuit was filed in federal court by Newsome's family. The wrongful-death suit names as defendants Anderson County, TAKET Holdings, registered nurse Tim Green, Dr. Adam Corley, and Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor, both individually and in his role as sheriff.
A coroner's report concluded Newsome suffered from multiple health issues, including hypertension and Addison's disease. She also had a history of mental illness.
Several former jail prisoners told the Herald-Press, shortly after Newsome's death, that Newsome, swollen on her left side and bleeding from the mouth, pleaded for hospital treatment for several days before she died.