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Thread: Inmate (Travis William Fletcher, 29) dies in PBC jail; authorities investigate cause

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    Inmate (Travis William Fletcher, 29) dies in PBC jail; authorities investigate cause

    Hours after the 29-year-old Lake Park man died, unknown to those in court, a judge agreed to lower his bail so he could be released from custody. Authorities say there was no foul play or underlying sickness involved.

    WEST PALM BEACH ' A Palm Beach County Jail inmate is dead due to unknown circumstances, days after his attorney filed a motion to reduce his bond, in part over fear of potential coronavirus exposure.

    Travis William Fletcher, 29, died early Monday, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said in a statement emailed Thursday. A spokeswoman said authorities do not suspect foul play and added that Fletcher did not show any signs of an underlying health concern.

    His cause of death is under investigation. The sheriff's office said Thursday afternoon that the county Medical Examiner's Office has completed an autopsy but is awaiting toxicology results.

    Brian LaBovick, the attorney whose firm is representing Fletcher's mother, said by telephone Thursday that it didn't make sense that a seemingly healthy, young man goes into the jail one day and ends up dead a week later.

    LaBovick said Fletcher's mother was on the phone with him the night before and hours later he was found dead. Fletcher's death could be anything from an unknown heart issue to coronavirus, he said.

    'We're committed to uncovering why this young man passed and if there was any malfeasance or malpractice for his care while he was in the jail,' he said.

    As of Wednesday, four PBSO deputies had tested positive for COVID-19, including two corrections deputies. In addition, five inmates are in isolation out of precaution, and two have been tested for the virus and are awaiting results, according to the sheriff's office.

    On Thursday afternoon, the Broward County Sheriff's Office announced two inmates in its jails had tested positive.

    Found in his bed

    On Monday, a deputy at the Palm Beach County Jail handing out breakfast trays at about 5 a.m. noticed Fletcher did not come to take his food. The deputy found him unresponsive in his bed.

    The medical staff at the jail started 'emergency medical treatment' before rescue crews arrived and took Fletcher to a hospital. There, emergency room staff pronounced him dead.

    At 9:40 a.m., nearly five hours after the deputy found Fletcher unresponsive, attorneys appeared in court to discuss whether his bond should be reduced. Court records indicate that he was not present because he was sick.

    Public Defender Carey Haughwout said the attorneys as well as Fletcher's mother were in court ready with a bondsman to get him out. At that time, they did not know he had died, she said.

    By 10 a.m., Circuit Judge Daliah Weiss had agreed to lower Fletcher's bail to $4,500 from $50,000. He would have been placed on in-house arrest.

    On the evening of March 23, Fletcher called authorities because he thought his girlfriend and their child were being held against their will. When Riviera Beach officers arrived, Fletcher's girlfriend explained they were not and added she 'has been a longtime victim of domestic violence by Fletcher,' according to an arrest report.

    Fletcher reportedly threatened to kill her boss and later came to her work waving a 10- to-12-inch knife. Fletcher denied anything happened.

    Officers arrested the Lake Park man in the early hours of March 24 on an aggravated assault charge.

    Bail set at $50,000

    Later that morning, Circuit Judge Laura Johnson ordered that Fletcher be held on $50,000 bail for the third-degree felony charge. Its scheduled bond is usually $3,000 and Fletcher had no previous convictions, according to court records.

    'It's a very high bond for someone with no priors or (who is not) a flight risk,' LaBovick said. 'The judge ordered a huge bond in the time of coronavirus.'

    Many lawyers and advocacy groups have been sounding alarms about concerns for safety inmates amid a potential COVID-19 outbreak in the jails.

    The Public Defender's Office, which represents a majority of those in the county jails, has been filing bond motions ' one of the few essential court hearings still being held at the courthouse amid closures ' in attempts to get people out. Many are simply in jail because they can't afford to get out, Haughwout said.

    Assistant State Attorney Bryan Poulton argued in a motion March 24 that Fletcher 'poses a threat of harm to the community' and asked that he be held in the jail without the possibility of posting bond.

    Fletcher's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Esmeralda Negron, filed a motion indicating that because Fletcher did not have a violent criminal history and was not a flight risk, he should have been released on his own recognizance. The $50,000 bail was too much for his family to afford, she wrote.

    The motion stated Fletcher had lived in Palm Beach County for 10 years and worked as a house painter, a job he could keep, were he to be released. The motion also said he could stay with family in Loxahatchee to abide by the no-contact order with his girlfriend and child.

    Negron also argued that in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the county should be focusing on decreasing the size of the jail population. The motion indicates the jail is not prepared to screen or care properly for inmates, should the virus spread there.

    Last edited by up2trouble; 04-26-2020 at 02:48 AM.

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