Telb found not guilty of covering up inmate deathWritten by John Seewer (AP) | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Jurors on Dec. 4 cleared a longtime sheriff accused of covering up the 2004 death of an inmate at a county jail following an altercation with a deputy.
Federal prosecutors charged Lucas County Sheriff James Telb and three of his current or former employees with covering up the death or falsifying reports after reopening the case.
Telb, in his seventh term as sheriff, could have been forced from office if convicted. He declined comment while leaving the courthouse.
Jurors also acquitted a former sheriff’s deputy, Sgt. John Gray, of assaulting and strangling Carleton Benton, who was being held on murder charges. But they did say that Gray violated Benton’s civil rights because he failed to get medical help.
Gray also was convicted of making a false report by not providing all details about what happened.
He declined comment afterward. Gray will be sentenced at a later date.
Prosecutors had said that Benton died after Gray choked the inmate with his forearm, and then suddenly went limp, prosecutors had said.
But medical experts testified that Benton had a history of seizures and was in a hospital just before he died. They said a seizure likely caused his death.
Two others also were charged in the case.
A retired deputy who was in the jail when Benton died also was convicted of making a false report while an internal affairs investigator was found not guilty of covering up what happened.
Prosecutor told jurors that the sheriff lied during the investigation and that the defendants showed “a blatant disregard for the law.”
Telb testified that he never interfered with the investigation. He also said he didn’t remember exactly what happened following Benton’s death.