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Milwaukee prosecutors question inmate's death by dehydration

By Mike Bambach
Prosecutors say Milwaukee County Jail inmate Terrill Thomas was held in solitary confinement without water for seven days before dying of dehydration. Photo courtesy Milwaukee Department of Corrections
Prosecutors say Milwaukee County Jail inmate Terrill Thomas was held in solitary confinement without water for seven days before dying of dehydration. Photo courtesy Milwaukee Department of Corrections

April 25 (UPI) -- A Milwaukee County Jail inmate went seven days without water before dying of dehydration, prosecutors said at an inquest into the man's death.

Terrill Thomas was mentally unstable and unable to ask for help before he was found dead on April 24, 2016, Assistant District Attorney Kurt Benkley told jurors on Monday.

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The cause of death was ruled "profound dehydration" and the medical examiner classified it a homicide.

The jury's advisory verdict could determine whether jail staff should be criminally charged.

Thomas had been placed in solitary confinement after using a mattress to flood his cell in the special needs unit, where he was kept for his bipolar disorder.

Milwaukee County Jail Lt. Jeffrey Andrykowski and corrections officer Decorie Smith both testified that they were never told the water in Thomas' new cell was turned off and that Thomas never asked for water.

Benkley said in his opening statement three corrections officers allegedly were captured on surveillance video cutting off Thomas's water supply. They never turned it back on and failed to document the action or alert supervisors.

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