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Deputy chief medical examiner: Dehydration death 'at the hands of another'

Posted at 3:38 PM, Jan 16, 2019

Testimony continued Wednesday in the trial of one of three former Milwaukee County Jail employees accused of killing an inmate through dehydration.

James Lee Ramsey-Guy faces a single felony charge, and up to 3.5 years behind bars, in a trial that could run into next week.

On Wednesday, prosecutors continued to make their case by providing jurors with a snapshot of the inside of 38-year old Terrill Thomas' cell at the Milwaukee County Jail.

Thomas, who was bipolar, died of dehydration. The jury Wednesday viewed a photo of the bone-dry sink inside of his cell.

According to prosecutors, Ramsey-Guy shut off the water to Thomas' cell on April 17, 2016, at the direction of a supervisor. The state argues jail staff closed off Thomas' water as punishment because Thomas used his mattress to flood a different cell he'd been previously housed in.

Milwaukee Police Detective Luke O'Day testified that when he arrived at Thomas' cell sometime after he died overnight from April 23 to April 24, there was no water or milk anywhere in the room.

O'Day said jail staff informed Milwaukee Police upon their arrival that water to the cell had been shut off.

Dr. Wieslawa Tlomak, Milwaukee County's deputy chief medical examiner, later testified that Thomas died of dehydration.

"Since the water was turned off in his cell and he didn't have access to water, I determined it was death at the hands of another," Tlomak testified. "I determined the manner of death was a homicide."

But during questioning from Ramsey-Guy's lawyer, she noted medical checks on Thomas between April 16 and April 24 didn't document any symptoms of dehydration such as dry lips or dry mucus membranes.

"I didn't see any of that in the records," Tlomak said.

Ramsey-Guy is the first of three former jail employees charged in connection with Thomas’ death to go on trial.

Lt. Kashka Meadors, who pleaded no contest last fall, is set to be sentenced later this month.

Maj. Nancy Evans' trial is scheduled for next month.