Inmate’s suicide spurs suit
A wrongful death suit seeking more than $75,000 was filed Thursday against the county and the City of Marion over the death of a jail inmate who hanged herself in her cell Dec. 5, 2020.
Kathy Parrish, mother of Julie Starks, filed the suit on behalf of Starks’s children. Parish is administrator of her daughter’s estate.
According to the petition, Marion County, the City of Marion, and their insurance carriers did not respond to a notice of the lawsuit. By law, their failure to respond within 120 days gives plaintiffs the right to sue.
Starks was arrested Dec. 4 by Marion police officer Steven Janzen and taken to jail by jailer Tammy Whiteside.
The family contends that Marion police and the sheriff’s department knew Starks had a history of mental illness and suicide attempts.
“Defendants did not place Julie Starks on suicide watch, did not take her belt away, did not take her shoelaces away, and did not properly supervise or monitor her,” the petition claims.
After Starks was found hanging in her cell, a jailer had another inmate not trained in CPR perform it on Starks.
The petition claims jail staff later lied, falsely claiming a jailer performed CPR and stating that Starks had merely “collapsed.”
The family also claims emergency medical service was not properly notified, resulting in a 39-minute delay in treating Starks.
The suit also claims the jail didn’t conduct a suicide risk assessment; didn’t have properly trained jailers, dispatchers, and EMS providers; didn’t properly monitor jail cameras; didn’t properly intervene in the suicide; and was verbally abusive of inmates.
Coroners found a ligature mark on her neck, discoloration of her head, methamphetamine and amphetamine in her blood, and a documented history of bipolar disorder.
Starks’ autopsy said that in addition to bipolar disorder, Starks had a history of depression, post traumatic stress disorder, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and a reported history of suicide attempts.
Evidence of medical intervention reported included an airway inserted through the mouth, catheters inserted in several places, a rectal monitor, electrocardiogram electrodes, a pulse detector on her finger, and compression devices on her legs.
Last modified Sept. 21, 2022