SALT LAKE CITY — A Duchesne County Jail nurse has been criminally charged in the December death of a 21-year-old inmate who prosecutors say received no treatment despite being too weak to leave her jail bed after days of vomiting and diarrhea.
Prosecutors in Utah's 8th District Court in Vernal Monday filed one count of negligent homicide, a class A misdemeanor, against Jana Clyde, 50.
The nurse has denied her patient was going through drug withdrawal even though it was written on Madison Jensen's intake form, an investigator with Utah Attorney General's Office wrote in a probable cause statement. Clyde was told of Jensen's "deteriorating condition" and had medical employees at the jail, reads the statement.
Clyde was placed on leave Monday under county policy, a spokesman for Duchesne County Sheriff's Office said in a prepared statement. It was not immediately clear if she had an attorney.
Jensen died Dec. 1 because of an abnormal heart rhythm due to dehydration during opiate withdrawal, according to a medical examiner cited in the affidavit.
She was booked into the jail five days earlier. She and her family decided she would be safer there after a night where she began acting erratically and saying she wanted to kill herself, her father said. Jensen told jail staff on Nov. 27 she used heroin, would have withdrawals, and also took medicine to treat her high blood pressure.
Clyde evaluated Jensen the next day and approved her to take blood-pressure medication but didn't address Jensen "being very ill with both vomiting and diarrhea" that day or the following day, when Jensen was moved to an isolated cell monitored by video, the affidavit states.
After bringing Jensen her medicine on Nov. 30, a jail deputy told the nurse that Jensen was weak and couldn't get up off her bed to get her medicine. But the nurse did not visit Jensen or consult her supervisors — a physician's assistant and doctor — according to charging documents.
"Defendant made no assessment, did not see the victim, nor made any attempt to check on the welfare of the victim," reads the probable cause statement.
Prosecutors did not name Jensen, but her family and the sheriff's office have publicly identified her.
"We're happy there was a charge filed," her father Jared Jensen said Monday, though he added "it's hard to see your daughter's life is only worth a class A misdemeanor." Jensen called for the removal of officials "all the way up the chain" to Sheriff David Boren, saying the way his daughter was treated was indicative of larger problems at the county.
He has filed a federal civil suit against Duchesne County that still is pending.
The Utah Attorney General's Office investigated other jail staff and Boren after Jensen's death, but determined it "was an isolated incident" and "found no issue with the conduct of other jail staff," according to the sheriff's office.
Boren in the statement declined to say more, citing the civil suit.