RUSSELL COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) – An inmate charged with capital murder in the fatal stabbing of a woman, died by suicide in the Russell County Jail in the early morning hours of Sunday.
Russell County Sheriff, Heath Taylor, held a press conference Sunday afternoon regarding Bradley Wayne Stokes’ sudden death. The RCSO received a call from the jail around 1:45 a.m. on Sept. 17 about an inmate needing an ambulance after passing out from strangulation.
According to RCSO, Stokes, 39, was arrested on Sept. 2 following the discovery of a body on the previous night in Seale, Ala. Stokes was arrested in Columbus.
Investigators say Stokes was placed on suicide watch as a precaution for multiple reasons. Stokes was facing a capital murder charge. He was recently released from federal prison on June 2 after serving 14 years of a 16 year sentence.
Sheriff Taylor says the there aren’t many cases of inmates dying by suicide in Russell County.
In my 36 years, I know of two [inmates] that were facing capital murder charges that committed suicide in the jail… this being the third one.Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor
Per the Russell County Jail protocol, an inmate placed on suicide watch is check on every 15 to 20 minutes. Inmates in the general population are checked on every two to three hours. On Sept. 9, Stokes was cleared off of suicide watch after seeing the office psychiatrist, a requirement by the jail. Psychiatrists perform a test to determine if an inmate has suicidal tendencies or thoughts. Stokes did not.
Correctional officers performed a routine check on Stokes at 11 p.m. on Saturday. Investigators say records indicate Stokes was on the phone throughout the night, using a tablet issued to each inmate. Investigators retrieved records from Stokes’ tablet, he spoke to a woman who they say he had an intimate relationship with and sent a text message to his mother.
At 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, officers found Stokes unresponsive in his cell after he used strips of his bed sheets to strangle himself. Authorities attempted CPR and used a defibrillator but had no success.
Investigators say Stokes left behind a note taped to the wall of his cell with a Band-Aid. Sheriff Taylor would not disclose the details written in the note or the text message Stokes’ sent his mother.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation into Stokes’ death to ensure full transparency since the incident happened inside of the jail.
We always ask another agency to come in just to make sure that we are following all policies and procedures that we are supposed to. If Lee County finds that we did something wrong, it will be in their report and it will go to the district attorney’s office and it will be addressed in this case. I don’t see that. But that’s why we make sure that somebody else looks into it so that nobody can say we covered it up or we brushed it under the rug or something happened and we just didn’t do anything about it.”Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor
The autopsy results will be sent to both the RCSO and LCSO. The case will then be presented to Russell County District Attorney, Rick Chancey.
Before any evidence is released, investigators are working closely with the Russell County District Attorney’s Office to compile evidence regarding the capital murder case. RSCO and the district attorney’s office will determine if the charges will be dropped in the next couple of days, due to Stoke’s death and not being able to prosecute the case.