Conflicting Autopsies Spur Federal Investigation Of Inmate's Death

Two conflicting autopsy reports have sparked the District Attorney to ask for a federal investigation into the death of a Harrison County Jail inmate.

In a letter dated in May, District Attorney Cono Caranna asked the U.S. Attorney to investigate how Lee Demond Smith of Biloxi died while in custody at the Harrison County Jail. The letter from Caranna reads, "In light of recent events resulting in the arrests of several Harrison County jailers, I can appreciate the family's concern and join their request for a thorough federal investigation"

The initial government autopsy determined Smith died from a blood clot in his lung. But a second autopsy, paid for by Smith's family, determined the cause of death to be strangulation. Because of the conflicting reports, and the death of Jessie Lee Williams, Caranna called for federal authorities to step in.

"Obviously, the facts that have come out in the Williams case have demonstrated that there need to be changes. The county has demonstrated they are willing to make those changes and are in the process of doing that. We have resources to investigate these kinds of things. And when there are challenges being made to that, I think, because we do have confidence in our ability to take care of these things and take care of them, that we prove that. And I'm willing to take that examination," Caranna said.

Though Caranna could not confirm whether the feds have started the probe he requested, sources tell WLOX News that the U.S. Attorney's office and the FBI are investigating Lee Demond Smith's death.