Family blames Pima County Sheriff's Department for inmate death - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Family blames Pima County Sheriff's Department for inmate death

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TUCSON – The family of a murdered inmate believes the Pima County Sheriff’s Department is responsible for his death.

Branden Roth was arrested April 7 for felony theft. He stole an expensive piece of equipment from a coworker, according to Roth’s family.

King Yates was charged with murdering Cassie Shaylor back in November. He had multiple violent offenses on his record.

Yates and Roth were sharing a cell at the Pima County Jail. Staff found Roth injured Wednesday morning. They gave him medical attention and called the Tucson Fire Department, but the 24-year-old died.

Yates was arrested for Roth’s murder.

“It was avoidable,” Roth’s mother, Carrie Walker, said. “My son didn't have to die.”

Walker said Roth was not able to post bond because he committed multiple nonviolent offenses.

“Did some really stupid things, obviously,” she said, “but never to deserve any of this.”

She said she is more upset with PCSD than Yates.

“Branden shouldn't have been put there,” Walker said. “Branden should have been separated and kept somewhat safe.”

Chief Byron Gwaltney is the corrections bureau commander for PCSD. He said it is common for accused murderers to share cells. Most inmates are awaiting court proceedings and are innocent until proven guilty.

“We do conduct a very thorough process, interviews,” Gwaltney said. “We have specialists that are trained in interviewing inmates and developing a classification as to where they are best suited in the housing and how many roommates they can be with.”

Gwaltney said court cases restrict the department’s ability to isolate inmates.

“We can do it for a limited period of time where they are re-evaluated,” he said, “but that long term isolation, we don't have a lot of locations for that.”

Yates was placed in isolation for re-evaluation.

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