405-778-4800
Criminal Attorney Oklahoma Defense Lawyer Adam R. Banner OKLAHOMA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY AT LAW
This Attorney is Lead Counsel Rated. Click here for more Information.

Sex abuse suspect dies in 5th Okla. County Jail suicide this year

23-Sep-2016

An Oklahoma City woman has become the eleventh Oklahoma County Jail inmate to die this year, and the fifth to commit suicide. Joanna Cortez, 39, was found hanging in her cell a day after her arrest, having been cleared from suicide watch.

Cortez was booked into the Oklahoma County Jail Wednesday morning on complaints of enabling child sexual abuse and possession of a controlled dangerous substance. Because of the severity of the charges against her, Cortez was initially placed under suicide watch. However, she was re-evaluated on Thursday and taken off of suicide watch. The woman was placed in a cell by herself in a medical unit, where jailers were to check on her every 30 minutes.

Reports say corrections officers checked on her at 1:37 p.m. When they returned at 2:05 p.m, they found her hanging and unresponsive in her cell.

Cortez was arrested on two counts of enabling child sexual abuse after a 17-year-old girl with autism told her grandmother that Johnny Samples, 33, had "put his private in my private. He made me hurt and bleed in my private.” The girl told her grandmother that Cortez knew about the sexual abuse and told Samples to stop, but did not report him to police or prevent such an act from occurring again. A police report indicates that the sexual abuse took place several times over a two year period. Samples is jailed on three complaints of indecent or lewd acts with a child under 16 and one count of obstructing an officer.

Enabling child sexual abuse is punishable by a maximum of life in prison. Lewd acts with a minor is punishable by 3 to 20 years in prison unless the child is under 12. In that case, it is punishable by 25 years to life.

Already this year, there have been more Oklahoma County Jail inmate deaths that in 2015 (six) and 2014 (four) combined. In June, Sheriff John Whetsel said he was taking steps to address the issue of escalating inmate deaths, including adding a nurse to the receiving area on Thursday through Sunday nights. Since then, two more inmates have died--Cortez, who committed suicide, and another woman who died earlier this month after being taken to a local hospital to give birth.

Rep. Mike Christian, R-Oklahoma City, who is running against Sheriff Whetsel, considers the jail deaths to be an important issue in his campaign, asking, "When is enough going to be enough?" and saying the deaths are the result of mismanagement of the jail.



All News

More News

Teen Who Urged Boyfriend to Commit Suicide Convicted of Manslaughter
19-Jun-2017

In July 2014, 18-year-old Conrad Roy III attempted to take his own..

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Warrantless Cell Phone Location Search Violates Fourth Amendment
12-Jun-2017

The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that cou..

Man Sentenced to 4 Years in Stabbing Death of Roommate
09-Jun-2017

A 72-year-old man is ordered to spend four years in prison after s..

Trial Delayed for Second Brother in Broken Arrow Quintuple Murder
29-May-2017

Shortly before midnight on July 22, 2015, police in Broken Arrow r..

Criminal Appeals Court Upholds Death Sentence for Triple-Murderer
26-May-2017

For the second time, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has af..

Poorly written bill leaves lawsuit loophole; Governor signs anyway
22-May-2017

When drafting legislation, it is imperative that language is clear..

Not Guilty Verdict in Tulsa Police Shooting; Officer's Job Status under Evaluation
19-May-2017

After nine hours of deliberation, a jury returned a verdict o..

Man Exonerated in Rape Case Awarded Compensation
15-May-2017

An Oklahoma man who was exonerated of rape after spending 13 years..

Trial Begins in Tulsa Police Shooting Case
08-May-2017

Jury selection begins today in the manslaughter case of Tulsa poli..

Oklahoma Death Penalty Remains on Hiatus
05-May-2017

It has been almost exactly three years since the botched execution..

×