The long-awaited trial of a former George County jail nurse accused of manslaughter in the Sept. 24, 2014, death of insulin-dependent jail detainee William Joel Dixon is set to begin Monday.
Carmon Brannan is accused of withholding insulin the jail had on hand to treat Dixon along with other insulin his mother brought to the jail and another batch an officer got out of Dixon’s car and brought back to the jail for him.
Lucedale police had arrested Dixon after they said they found him asleep in his car with drugs inside.
Brannan’s case has lingered in the courts for longer than expected because she initially entered a guilty plea in the case in May only to withdraw the plea later, saying she always planned to go to trial on the charge. She also claimed to be indigent when she hired an attorney to represent her in the pending trial.
Special Judge Richard McKenzie is presiding over the trial. Brannan is the sister of George County Chancery Clerk Cammie Byrd.
Brannan is accused of failing to provide “sufficient medical treatment” to Dixon between Sept. 17 and the day of his Sept. 24, 2014, death. Dixon had gone days without any food or water and was vomiting before he lost consciousness and died in his jail cell.
According to sworn statements in the case, Brannan repeatedly brushed off Dixon’s complaints about being ill, saying he was “faking” and was likely suffering from drug withdrawals.
In addition, the documents state that Brannan only checked Dixon’s blood sugar once during his jail stay, though experts said a blood-sugar check on an insulin-dependent diabetic should be done at least twice a day.
Over the course of Dixon’s jail stay, according to the sworn statements in the case, Brannan never administered insulin to Dixon or offered any assistance to him even as his body weakened to the point that he was vomiting and unable to eat.
Brannan never created a medical file on Dixon as well, according to records filed in the case, though the jail’s staff repeatedly asked her to check on him.
Brannan was one of two nurses who worked at the jail at the time, responsible for trying to provide adequate medical care to a typical inmate population of about 280 state inmates and about 100 county inmates.
At the time of Dixon’s death, he was jailed 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 died.
If convicted, she is facing a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Dixon’s estate is suing George County, the City of Lucedale and Brannan over Dixon’s death. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for Dixon’s heirs and punitive damages from Brannan. The suit is filed in U.S. District Court.