Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Mother of alleged suicide victim answers Sheriff's lawsuit seeking deposition 'in anticipation' of litigation over death

Meridian – Court records show that the mother of a woman whose alleged suicide while in custody in County Jail has retained a lawyer to answer a suit filed against her by the Sheriff of Bosque County.
Sheriff Anthony P. Mallott

Papers filed in State District Court by Waco attorney and former member of the Texas Legislature Jim Dunnam say his client denies “each and every allegation of Petitioner (Sheriff Anthony P. Mallott) and demands strict proof thereof...”

The Sheriff filed suit against Tina Pierce, mother of April Troyn, 36, seeking to depose her about events surrounding the death of her daughter on May 4 “in anticipation” of any litigation that may be filed as a result.

Jailers reported that they found Ms. Troyn “unresponsive,” a blanket wrapped around her neck and hanging from the bars of her cell a couple of hours after the last person to see her alive departed the cell, according to reports.

It is unclear when County officials booked her into jail. Some records say it was on May 2, while others fix the date at May 3. A magistrate charged her with the crime of abandonment and/or endangerment of her child on May 2.

An investigation by Child Protective Services investigators the previous December, 2012, yielded no charges. They released the child into her custody at the time.

A boy of pre-school age, he had walked several blocks from her home to a fast food restaurant on Highway 6 and told counter servers he was hungry. He asked for food. They called the police.

In an affidavit of probable cause, a Clifton Police detective swore out a warrant for her arrest in February based on allegations involving the December investigation.

The warrant's return of service indicates May 2 as the date of her arrest. Booking records show she was admitted to the County Jail on May 3. Texas Commission on Jail Standards inspectors have ordered the Sheriff to board female prisoners at a neighboring county jail if they are to be held more than 24 hours. To comply with state jail standards, female prisoners must be segregated from male prisoners by “sight and sound,” something which is impossible in the tiny confines of the Bosque County Jail.
Ms. Tina Pierce

The deceased woman's mother, Ms. Pierce, has made numerous public statements regarding her daughter's confusion as to why police arrested her on May 2. She and other family members have alleged that when Ms. Troyn called them, she thought she was held for non-payment of traffic tickets she received in a single-car rollover accident in which her children were not restrained in car seats. A city judge apparently jailed her briefly for that reason at an earlier time.

They have also alleged that the police made frequent visits to their home in Clifton to question her about her knowledge of an arson in which her sister and her husband have been charged for burning a rent house in which they lived. Two adjacent houses have burned since that time.

Under a rule of Civil Procedure cited by Tyler Attorney Robert S. Davis, Sheriff Mallott seeks to learn what Ms. Pierce knows about the facts surrounding the case,  as they may figure in  any lawsuit she may possibly file against himself and Bosque County.

Mr. Davis is retained of counsel by Bosque County in the matter.

A District Judge will first be required to order the deposition following a hearing into the matter. No such hearing has been set at this time.

In answering the petition, Mr. Dunnam entered a prayer for relief in which “...Respondent prays that Petitioner take nothing herein, that Respondent be awarded the relief prayed for hereinabove, and for such other and further relief, special or general, legal or equitable, as may be shown that Respondent is justly entitled to receive.”

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