Crime

Ex-jail nurse accused in inmate’s death hired attorney after claiming to be indigent

Carmon Sue Brannan, a former nurse at the George County jail, enters an Alford plea on Tuesday, May 16, 2017, in the manslaughter death of a jail detainee. She was accused of failing to provide sufficient medical treatment to William Joel Dixon, who was a diabetic. The crime allegedly occurred between Sept. 17 and 24, 2014.
Carmon Sue Brannan, a former nurse at the George County jail, enters an Alford plea on Tuesday, May 16, 2017, in the manslaughter death of a jail detainee. She was accused of failing to provide sufficient medical treatment to William Joel Dixon, who was a diabetic. The crime allegedly occurred between Sept. 17 and 24, 2014. amccoy@sunherald.com

A judge will order former George County jail nurse Carmon Sue Brannan to pay after she hired a new lawyer and said she intends to withdraw her manslaughter guilty plea in the death of an insulin-dependent jail detainee.

Special Judge Richard McKenzie said Brannan will need to pay all fees George County incurred for court costs, including fees for court reporters and the attorneys appointed to defend her when she claimed early on she was indigent and unable to pay for her own attorney.

The judge said he will issue the order once the overall cost is determined after Brannan’s court-appointed attorneys have submitted all of their expenses and the court has determined the cost to George County, including the hiring of an expert to act on her behalf.

In May, Brannan entered an Alford plea, meaning she did not admit guilt but agreed there was enough evidence to convict her of manslaughter if she went to trial for the Sept. 24, 2014, death of jail detainee William Joel Dixon.

On Tuesday, Brannan hired attorney Mary Lee Holmes, who asked the judge for a sentencing delay because she planned to withdraw Brannan’s plea.

The judge moved the sentencing but still held a hearing on Thursday.

“No one is above the law or below the law, but we all must answer to the law,” District Attorney Tony Lawrence said Thursday.

Lawrence had recommended a 20-year sentence for Brannan, with 10 years to serve and the remainder on post-release supervision.

Brannan was a registered nurse at the jail when she failed to provide “sufficient medical treatment” to Dixon between Sept. 17 and Sept. 24, 2014, the day of his death, authorities said.

Dixon was found dead in his cell after going days without food or insulin.

Dixon had been picked up after Lucedale police found him asleep in his car. After he was jailed, one of his relatives called the jail to tell officials he was an insulin-dependent diabetic. A relative even brought some insulin to the jail staff to ensure Dixon got the medication he needed to live.

Over the course of Dixon’s time in the jail, Brannan tested his blood sugar only once, Lawrence said, though experts said a blood-sugar check on an insulin-dependent diabetic should be done at least twice a day.

Brannan did not provide insulin to Dixon during his jail stay despite his repeated requests and his pleas for help as his symptoms worsened, authorities said.

The insulin had been turned over to the jail after his arrest. Authorities also went back to Dixon’s car to retrieve additional insulin and handed it over to jail staffers to administer.

Brannan, according to a witness statements, repeatedly brushed off Dixon’s complaints of feeling ill, saying he was “faking” and was likely having drug withdrawals. The former jail nurse never administered any insulin to Dixon and failed to offer assistance even after he was weak and unable to eat for days because he had been deprived of insulin.

Brannan never created a medical file on Dixon, Lawrence said, though jail staff repeatedly asked her to check on him. Dixon’s family also went by the jail and called to ensure the staff knew to administer the insulin.

At the time of his death, Dixon was in jail on two counts of child endangerment and one count of possession of a controlled substance, DUI other, driving with an expired tag, and driving without insurance.

Brannan was allowed to resign after Dixon’s death.

A jail nurse later found Dixon’s insulin in a box of medications that were supposed to be discarded because they weren’t needed. All of Dixon’s insulin sat in the box meant for disposal during his jail stay.

Margaret Baker: 228-896-0538, @Margar45

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