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Bronx Jail Guards Won't Be Charged in Prisoner's Homicide, DA Says

Jason Echeverria was dying in his cell on Aug. 18, 2012, after swallowing a ball of toxic soap in hopes of getting out of solitary confinement at the Bronx, N.Y. jail. As the chemicals burned his tongue, throat and intestines, Echeverria begged three jail guards and a captain for help, but they ignored him.

That night, Echeverria, a 25-year-old robbery suspect, died in jail. His death was ruled a homicide by a medical examiner and blamed on "neglect and denial of medical care" by jail staff. Yet, Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson decided in March 2013 not to prosecute any of them.

Robert Kelner, the Echeverria family's attorney, doesn't understand why not.

"They just let this kid die. And he died horribly," Kelner said.

Jail surveillance video reportedly shows guard Raymond Castro pausing in front of Echeverria's cell multiple times. Once, Castro visibly shrugged his shoulders and walked away.

Castro said, however, that it was his boss, Capt. Terrence Pendergrass, who ignored Castro's repeated pleas to send Echeverria to the jail's clinic.

The video also shows, according to the New York Daily News, another guard and a pharmacy technician briefly stopping in front of Echeverria's cell. After that, however, all video between midnight and 8 a.m. was conveniently lost because of a purported blackout in the jail.

"The only area of the world where the electricity went off was that building," groused Boris Kogan, another Echeverria family attorney.

The Daily News reported that "veteran jail bosses" told the tabloid, in defense of the Bronx jail guards, that prisoners in solitary confinement often fake illnesses.

Bronx DA spokesman Steven Reed, meanwhile, said prosecutors didn't have "sufficient evidence to move forward."

Source: New York Daily News

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