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City to pay $15,000 for inmate death

Staff writer

In a move that could herald a larger settlement from the county, the City of Marion has agreed to pay $15,000 to the family of a mentally ill inmate who committed suicide in 2020 while in county jail.

The mother and children of Julie Starks, who hanged herself Dec. 5, 2020, settled their suit against the city June 20, but have not settled with the county.

Starks’ mother, Kathy Parrish, filed the wrongful death suit Sept. 15, 2022, seeking more than $75,000.

Out of the $15,000, $7,416.36 will go to the family’s lawyer, Matthew Bretz; $3,791.82 to Parrish as guardian of Starks’ minor child; and $3,792.82 to Starks’ adult daughter, Magnolia Chrisjohn.

Starks was arrested Dec. 4, 2020, by then Marion officer Steven Janzen and booked into jail by Tammy Whiteside.

“Although both the Marion Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff’s Department knew that Julie Starks had a history of mental illness and suicide attempts, (they) did not place (her) on suicide watch, did not take her belt away, did not take her shoelaces away, and did not properly supervise or monitor her,” the suit claims.

The family also claimed jail employees lied about what happened after Starks was found hanging the next morning.

“Marion County’s jailer had a fellow inmate who was not trained in performing CPR perform CPR on Ms. Starks,” the petition alleged. “Marion County’s staff later lied about this, falsely claiming that another jailer was the person performing CPR and falsely claiming that Ms. Starks had merely ‘collapsed.’”

The family claims jail employees didn’t dispatch an ambulance until 19 minutes later, resulting in a 39-minute delay in treatment for Starks.

They claim the defendants also didn’t have proper training and supervision of officers, jailers, dispatch and emergency medical providers; didn’t properly assess Starks; didn’t monitor jail cameras; failed to intervene in the suicide; verbally abused inmates; and didn’t properly supervise or treat inmates.

“Julie Starks endured significant conscious pain and suffering and ultimately died,” their petition claims.

Last modified July 6, 2023

 

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