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State Supreme Court won’t hear jail nurse manslaughter case

June 25, 2021 GMT

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi Supreme Court will not reconsider the case of a former jail nurse convicted in the 2014 death of a George County inmate.

Justices denied Carmon Brannan’s request for the Supreme Court to take up her case in an order filed June 18.

In July 2018, a Warren County jury convicted Brannan of manslaughter in the Sept. 14, 2014, death of William Joel Dixon. The Mississippi Court of Appeals affirmed the manslaughter conviction in October 2020.

Dixon, a 29-year-old insulin-dependent diabetic, was an inmate at the George County jail where Brannan was employed as a nurse.

“During his incarceration, Dixon complained that he was unable to breathe, felt weak, and could not keep any foods or liquids down,” the Appeals Court wrote in 2020. “In addition, guards found Dixon on the floor of his cell and unable to walk on multiple occasions.”

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Brannan was a registered nurse and the top medical authority in the jail at the time. She saw Dixon several times but did not send him for medical help, according to court records.

“At trial, Brannan maintained that she believed Dixon had been suffering from withdrawals and was detoxing from his drug use,” the Appeals Court wrote.

In a document filed to the Mississippi Supreme Court on April 27 requesting that Brannan’s appeal be reconsidered, Brannan’s lawyer, Mary Lee Holmes, claimed Dixon told Brannan that he had been smoking meth daily for the past six months and that he did not regularly take his insulin.

Holmes claimed Brannon placed Dixon on a restricted diet and told him that if he wanted to check his blood sugar, he could ask a guard to bring him up to the infirmary.

Dixon signed a refusal form indicating he was refusing care and would have to let someone know if he changed his mind, Holmes wrote. Holmes said Dixon ever made a sick call request.

“An overworked jail nurse responsible for 350-400 inmates is sitting in a jail cell for the next 15 years based on what amounts to a medical malpractice incident of mis-evaluating an inmate,” Holmes wrote.

Holmes claimed that while working at the George County Jail, Brannan “begged the County for additional nursing staff because she could not keep up with the work they placed before her.”

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Leah Willingham is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.