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Inmate suicide death in Kings County Jail

HANFORD — A Hanford man sentenced for extortion committed suicide in the Kings County Jail in December, according to jail officials.

Sheriff’s Office officials said deputies and ambulances were dispatched to the jail at around 4:20 p.m. on Dec. 20 for a report of a non-responsive inmate.

When first responders arrived, officials said they began administering first aid to 26-year-old Ethen Carrell of Hanford. Carrell was then transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Sheriff’s officials said Carrell, who was convicted of extortion on the same day he committed suicide, used bedsheets to hang himself from the top bunk in his cell.

“I don’t think any mother should ever have to bury their child,” said Venus Donahue, Carrell's mother. “Especially from something that was 100 percent preventable.”

Donahue said although her son made some mistakes, he was a good man who was smart and always willing to give his time and help others. She said he tutored classmates in high school, helped coach kids in basketball and volunteered.

Assistant Sheriff Robert Thayer said Carrell was booked into the jail on Aug. 16, 2017, on suspicion of extortion, making terrorist threats and several other charges.

Thayer said when Carrell was found guilty, he had an outburst inside the court and staff had to restrain him.

Thayer said it’s not uncommon for people to be emotional when they are convicted in court, so prior to going back to his cell when he was taken back to the jail from the courthouse, Carrell was taken to the jail’s behavior health specialist to talk.

Thayer said during Carrell's talk with the specialist, he gave no hint he was thinking about suicide and was then cleared by the specialist to go back to his cell.

Normally, Thayer said inmates are checked on at least once an hour, but he said staff always gives inmates who have recently been convicted a little more attention.

He said Carrell was being checked on about three times an hour and about 20-30 minutes had elapsed between his last check and when officers found him non-responsive in his cell. He said Carrell was in general population and was by himself in the cell at the time.

Kings County Sheriff-Coroner Dave Robinson said the official cause of death was self-inflicted ligature strangulation. He said there was nothing else to report, and said it was a sad situation.

“He was loving, always smiled and had such a passion for life,” Donahue said.

Donahue said Carrell loved everybody he came across and was always telling people to be positive, stay strong and trust in the Lord.

The Sentinel 

Hanford forward Madison Stewart (6) and Hanford West's (4) Alexis Martinez go after a ball in the first half of Friday's game. Stewart scored in the 67th minute and Hanford won 4-0.

NAACP plans MLK memorial march, breakfast

HANFORD — NAACP Kings County has made a New Year’s resolution of their own — to be more visible and approachable in 2018.

“This year is about activism,” says chapter president, Dr. Gail Crooms. “We want to get our name out there through events in the community.”

The year’s mission statement, as well as details on upcoming events will be detailed at the annual Martin Luther King Day march and breakfast Monday.

Beginning at the Hanford Civic Auditorium at 8 a.m., the march to honor MLK will proceed on Douty Street before returning to the auditorium for a free pancake breakfast, provided by the Lions Club.

The event, featuring Crooms’ address on the organization’s plans for the year, will last until 11:30.

The MLK memorial event will also feature guest speakers and information booths where members of the community can ask questions and pick the brains of local activists and entrepreneurs.

Crooms said the shift to being more active in the community came after she met a man who told her he didn’t know that The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which is dedicated to recognizing civil rights for all, regardless of race, had offices in Kern County.

“I gave him my card and invited him to my office anytime to speak about whatever was on his mind,” Crooms said. “I just want people to know we’re available.”

One of the projects Crooms is excited about for the upcoming year is the “Bridging the Gap” project, the goal of which is to increase communication between local law enforcement and members of the community, as well as seeking alternate means of dealing with crimes that be committed by mentally unhealthy individuals.

“Youths committing crimes may benefit more from mental health services rather than incarceration. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is rampant,” she says. “We’re working with police to come up with a resolution and they’ve been very helpful.”

The year will also see events like fish fries, scholarship dinners and autism-awareness advocacy.

Though some of the events will be new, the message has remained the same: fairness.

“We are about fairness in the community. We want our children to be treated equally.  We’re not here to get anyone out of trouble, or to fight with anyone. We just want to make sure everyone is treated fairly,” Crooms says. “We’re advocating for our children to have a voice without fear of retaliation.”

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