Crime

Jury deadlocks in trial of George County jail nurse. But they aren’t finished yet.

Carmon Brannon, center, smiles during her trial in George County on January 22, 2018. Brannon is accused of not giving a jail inmate the insulin he needed to treat diabetes.
Carmon Brannon, center, smiles during her trial in George County on January 22, 2018. Brannon is accused of not giving a jail inmate the insulin he needed to treat diabetes. mbbaker@sunherald.com

A judge Monday sent a jury back into deliberations after telling the judge they were stuck in an 11-1 vote in the manslaughter trial of a former George County jail nurse accused of causing an insulin-dependent jail detainee's death.

The jurors had been deliberating for several hours before they sent a note to the clerk to ask Special Judge Richard McKenzie how they should proceed.

The jury did not indicate if the vote was in favor or against a conviction in the manslaughter case against Carmon Brannan.

Brannan, 53, was the registered nurse at the jail when she withheld the insulin he needed to live, resulting in his death on Sept. 24, 2014, the prosecution said.

If convicted, Brannan could go to prison for up to 20 years.

In closing arguments, District Attorney Tony Lawrence and Assistant District Attorney Cherie Wade reminded jurors of the testimony of correctional officials and a licensed practical nurse at the jail who said Brannan repeatedly “ignored” Dixon's declining medical condition despite their pleas for her to check on him.

In addition, other corrections officials testified Brannan had withheld medication from other inmates, including coworkers.

The detainees said she was generally “rude” to those she treated and repeatedly ignored requests for medical attention.

Over the course of his jail stay, prosecutors said, Brannan repeatedly chalked Dixon's condition up to drug withdrawals because he had admitted smoking up to 2 grams of meth a day for six months leading up to his arrest in Lucedale on Sept. 17, 2014.

On the morning Dixon's Sept. 24, 2014, death, Brannan claims Dixon was conscious and “sitting up” when she went to his jail cell to check on him. She made those claims despite the testimony of jailers and others who repeatedly said Dixon had been unable to eat for days before his death.

A video of Brannan's check on Dixon the day of his death shows her check on him amounted to her peeking through the window of Dixon's jail cell for less than two seconds.

“This defendant ignored officers nine different times when they told her about Dixon's worsening condition,” Lawrence said, though Brannan was required by law to provide sufficient medical care to him.

Prosecutors also reminded jurors Dixon's mother had brought a batch of insulin to the jail. So did a Lucedale police officer who fetched the insulin from Dixon's car and brought it back to the jail.

Defense attorneys Jim Dukes and Bud Holmes argued Dixon had not been caring for himself and had forgone any appointments with his doctor in the year before his death. Instead, they said, Dixon treated himself with over-the-counter medication to treat the diabetes.

They also pointed out Dixon later had a back injury and was taking painkillers to treat that condition as well.

Prosecutors pointed out Dixon had no drugs in his system at the time of his death and the cause of death was due to complications from diabetes.

Brannan, however, repeatedly told jails officials Dixon was “faking” his illness and continuously chalked up his condition in jail to drug withdrawals.

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

Defense attorneys argue Brannan at all times provided sufficient medical care to Dixon and also noted that Dixon had refused insulin treatment during another jail stay .

Brannan also declined to send Dixon to a doctor or a hospital for treatment.

“Thirteen times, this defendant denied sending Joel Dixon to a doctor or a hospital,” Lawrence said.

A jury will will ultimately decide whether Brannan failed to provide “sufficient” medical treatment to Dixon.

Brannan was one of two nurses who worked at the jail at the time, charged with providing adequate medical care to a typical inmate population of about 280 state inmates and about 100 county inmates.

Type 2 diabetes is a growing concern in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 29 million people have been diagnosed with it.

Margaret Baker: 228-896-0538, @Margar45

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