Missouri News

Pike County officials not speculating on why jail inmate committed suicide

By Herald-Whig
Posted: May. 26, 2016 9:05 am
BOWLING GREEN, Mo. -- Local law enforcement officials say they have no explanation why a Pike County Jail inmate for the past nine months committed suicide early Tuesday morning.

Steven R. Bussell, 34, was found dead in his cell at 12:45 a.m. Tuesday, according to Pike County Sheriff Stephen Korte.

Bussell apparently used a torn-off piece of a bed sheet to hang himself, Korte said. A jail employee found Bussell's body while conducting routine rounds.

"It had been about an hour since he was last seen by staff," Korte said.

Pike County Coroner Jim Turner pronounced Bussell dead at the scene.

Bussell was alone in a cell at the time. Korte said most cells ordinarily have two inmates at a time because the jail only has 50 beds, and the inmate population typically ranges between 40 and 45 each day.

Korte said a second inmate had been occupying Bussell's cell until the second inmate bonded out Monday, leaving Bussell by himself.

Results of an autopsy scheduled for Wednesday had not yet been released.

"We're still waiting for the autopsy report to make sure there wasn't something else, but there's no indication at this time it was anything other than that," Korte said.

Korte could offer no explanation why Bussell would have taken his own life.

"He had given no indication to staff -- or to anyone else -- that he was thinking of this," Korte said.

Pike County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Fisher said Bussell was jailed awaiting court hearings on a variety of different charges.

He was facing possible prison time for alleged violations of his parole in two related cases from several years ago. One case involved a felony assault charge stemming from an incident in September 2011. The other case involved a charge of resisting and interfering with an arrest for a felony.

Fisher said Bussell was on parole for both offenses when he allegedly violated the terms of his probation. Last summer he failed to appear for a hearing, and a warrant for his arrest was issued. He was subsequently taken into custody on several drug-related charges last August and has been in jail ever since.

The new charges involved felony possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and a misdemeanor drug paraphernalia charge. Bussell also faced a charge of unlawful use of a weapon. In addition, Bussell faced a felony charge from August 2014 on tampering with a motor vehicle and two related traffic charges.

Court records show hearings for these various charges were continued on several occasions. In addition, Bussell's attorney, Bruce McGuire, withdrew in April, prompting Bussell to seek a public defender, causing another delay.

Records show a parole violation report was filed May 2 in Pike County Circuit Court, and a status hearing in Bussell's case was scheduled for June 30.

Had his probation been revoked, Fisher said, Bussell could have faced up to seven years in the Department of Corrections on the original assault charge and seven additional years on the resisting arrest charge. Bussell also faced additional penalties if convicted on the newer charges.

However, Fisher cautioned against speculating that Bussell committed suicide simply because he was facing a possible prison term.

"There was never any indication he made that if he went to prison something like this would have happened," Fisher said.

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