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JAIL inmate dies of blunt trauma to the head while in custody


MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) _ A man arrested on drunkenness and other complaints died of a head injury which law officers and medical personnel say they never detected.

A state Medical Examiner's Office report revealed Monday that Randall Hughart died of ``blunt trauma to the head.''

Muskogee County officials say they saw no evidence of any trauma when they arrested and jailed Hughart early Saturday for outstanding warrants and reported drunkenness.

Hughart, 23, spent four hours in the jail before employees noticed blood in his nostrils. He was transported to a Muskogee hospital, where tests revealed head injuries. He was then flown by helicopter to a Tulsa hospital. He died the next day.

``I know my officers did everything they could,'' Muskogee County Sheriff Charles Pearson said. ``It's kind of hard to detect head injuries without any visible signs.''

Ambulance personnel also transported Hughart without noticing these injuries. Muskogee County EMS spokeswoman Rebecca Smith could not comment on Hughart directly, but said a man who was transported from the jail early Saturday did not show signs of head trauma. Such wounds occasionally go unnoticed, she said.

``Actually, it's not all that uncommon,'' Smith said. For example, ``you can have a subdural hematoma and not have visible bruising on the head.'' Medics would have documented any visible injuries, she added.

Muskogee police investigator Shannon Baker said officers found Hughart early Saturday at an apartment complex after reports of a possible fight. Witnesses told police that they never saw another person fighting with Hughart.

``Nobody saw anything,'' Baker said. ``All they saw was him (Hughart) sitting at the end of the stairs.''

Hughart was wanted by police on a second-degree burglary complaint and violation of probation, Pearson said.

He was moved into several cells during his first few hours in the jail, the sheriff said. Finally, he was sent into an observation cage and allowed a visit from his mother.

At 4 a.m. Saturday, Pearson said, Hughart was taken to a restroom. When he returned, jailers noticed blood in his nose, so an ambulance was called.

Hughart resisted officers during his arrest and jailing and resisted the efforts of ambulance personnel, Pearson said.

``He was kind of combative,'' Pearson said. ``He didn't want to go to jail. But ``there was never any indication of injuries.''

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