Mountains

Cause of inmate’s death unknown

By Tobie Baker Journal staff writer

Law enforcement officials have yet to release autopsy results for an inmate who died last month while in custody at the Montezuma County jail.

Harrison M. Begay, 38, of Tonalea, Ariz., died inside a holding cell at the jail on Sunday, Oct. 27. A Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said the autopsy results are expected in coming weeks.

“We expect a three to four week time frame before we receive the final results,” said Lt. Ted Meador.

Meador added a probe by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation is ongoing. He declined to release any further details.

Initial reports stated that Begay was highly intoxicated when he was brought into the jail on a charge of trespassing by the Cortez Police Department.

Montezuma County Sheriff Dennis Spruell said Begay was transported to the hospital and received a medical clearance. Jailors were subsequently ordered to check on the prisoner every half-hour, according to Spruell.

Begay’s death marked the second such incident at the Montezuma County jail this year. Edward Grant Lyen, 61, reportedly committed suicide while in custody at the jail on June 13.

Operated under the direction of the sheriff’s office, the 104-bed Montezuma County jail houses an average of 90 inmates per day.

tbaker@cortezjournal.com

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