Autopsy finds 2 pills in inmate's stomach

July 02, 1998|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

The autopsy performed on Parrish Michael Spinoso, a Howard County inmate, discovered two undissolved pills -- believed to be Ecotrin, part of the jail's withdrawal treatment -- in his stomach, state medical examiner officials said yesterday.

Officials said toxicology tests conducted during the autopsy -- released Tuesday -- found no drugs in Spinoso's system. The family's attorney then charged that the medical examiner's report contradicted the jail's account of the events before Spinoso's death.

But the presence of the pills means Spinoso likely took them just before he died and that they were not absorbed by his system, officials said.

The attorney, Marvin Ellin, says the jail was negligent in caring for Spinoso and failed to provide him access to his asthma medication.

Jail officials say Spinoso was given Ecotrin and Vistaril to treat his symptoms of withdrawal from heroin the day before he was found dead, at 6: 08 a.m. June 7, after 42 hours in the jail.

A jail report released after Spinoso's death said he was given the two medications twice -- at 2 p.m. and 7: 30 p.m. -- on the day before he was found dead because of vomiting and other symptoms associated with withdrawal.

Melanie C. Pereira, director of the Howard County Detention Center, said medical staff members do not monitor whether inmates swallow Ecotrin when they are given it.

Spinoso, a daily heroin user, according to the jail report, died as a result of the severe asthma he suffered since he was young, the autopsy found. Spinoso had some asthma medication in his cell, but refused two other medications the day before he was found dead, jail officials said.

"I am confident that we followed our policies and procedures," Pereira said.

Pub Date: 7/02/98

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