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Inmate takes own life before today's scheduled plea, sentencing

TYLER, October 18, 2013-- At 3:45 this morning, a Detention Officer at the Smith County Jail found inmate Kerry Deon Winston, age 42 of Tyler, hanging in his cell. EMS was contacted and arrived at the jail at 3:53 a.m. CPR was being administered to Mr. Winston by jail personnel prior to EMS arriving at the jail. The inmate was alive but unresponsive at that time.

Immediate action was taken to save his life, but Winston later died after being transported by EMS. Mr. Winston was pronounced dead at East Texas Medical Center at 4:26 a.m. Smith County Justice of the Peace Precinct 5 Jamie Cowart held an inquest and ordered an autopsy.

A preliminary investigation indicates that a note was left by Mr. Winston outlining his intentions to take his own life. There were no previous reports or concerns from either Mr. Winston or cellmates indicating that he had discussed his intentions. Had that been the case, Mr. Winston would have been on suicide watch.

Winston was jailed on March 6 of this year on charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child and was in the Smith County Jail on a $500,000 bond.

Winston’s family has been notified and an investigation is underway regarding the incident. This investigation is being conducted by the Texas Rangers with assistance of the Smith County Sheriff’s Office crime scene unit. This is per protocol and procedures that have been set up by the Sheriff’s administration.

Sheriff Smith said that there will be a thorough investigation and that he will review this incident to ensure proper procedures were followed.

Kerry Deon Winston was scheduled to appear in the 7th State District Court of Smith County at 1:00 p.m., today, to enter a plea and receive sentencing.

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