GBI begins criminal investigation, awaits autopsy in YDC death

 

The Georgia Bureau of Investiga­tion has begun a criminal investigation into Tuesday’s death of an inmate at Augusta Youth Develop­ment Campus.

Autopsy results determining what killed 19-year-old Jade Holder could be released today.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Assistant Special Agent in Charge Pat Morgan said agents were called in to investigate after Hold­er was seriously injured in his cell in Unit 43 around 9 p.m. Mon­day.

Unit 43 holds 15 to 20 inmates, who are housed in one-man cells, according to Morgan.

“Due to the injury at the time, (YDC) called and requested us to come in,” Morgan said. “It’s totally up to them when they want us to come but I guess due to the severity and the kid having to go directly to the hospital, they thought it best for us to go ahead and come in.”

Holder was pronounced dead at 3:20 p.m. Tuesday after being de­­clared brain dead at Medical Col­lege of Georgia, according to Richmond County Coroner Grover Tuten.

Detailed injuries are not being released until the completion of the autopsy at the GBI Crime Lab in Augusta.

“There are rumors spreading about having people in custody, but no­body has been arrested and no charges have been filed,” Morgan said.

He would not comment on whether there are any suspects.

Holder, of Sylvester, Ga., was serv­ing a three-year stint and had been transported from Dodge County to the Augusta facility.

Emily Gest, a spokeswoman for the Department of Juvenile Justice, declined to give Holder’s criminal history citing that juvenile records remain sealed even after death.

The GBI investigation is purely criminal. Any investigation involving policy and procedures will have to be done by the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.

Gest would not comment Wednesday morning on the incident, citing the ongoing investigation.

She released a statement Tuesday from the department that said: “Should there be any evidence of staff or youth misconduct or criminal activity, DJJ will take all appropriate measures, including referrals for criminal prosecution. Additional precautionary measures are being used to ensure the safety for the youth and staff.”

Gov. Nathan Deal’s office also issued a statement regarding the incident:

“The state will fully investigate this alleged crime and report back on the facts, but initial reports are disturbing. A new commissioner will take over Department of Juvenile Justice next week, and I will work with her to take swift and urgent action in this case. Beyond the ongoing investigation, we need to take corrective action to prevent similar travesties from occurring in the future. My heart goes out to the victim and his family.”

According to a Monday press release, current commissioner, Amy Howell, will move into a role as general counsel at the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. She was appointed in January 2011 and was the first female commissioner at the department.

Gale Buckner, who currently serves on the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, will move into the new position as commissioner, according to the press release.

The Augusta campus has a history of problems. In 2004, the YDC was closed for four months when the Attorney General’s Office advised that a private company take control of the campus.

The recommendation came after numerous accounts of discord between black and white employes, assaults on the youth, suicide gestures and the resignation of a director after seven months on the job.

The private company did not take ownership and the facility was reopened by the state.

Reports: Augusta Youth Development Campus inmate dies

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