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Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes' office has agreed to review the investigation into the death of 21-year-old Madison Jensen, who died after becoming dehydrated during her four days in the Duchesne County jail.
The death remains shrouded in questions, including what kind of medical attention Jensen received during her time in jail. Records indicate she told jail staff she was vomiting and had diarrhea for her entire stay before she died Dec. 1.
She lost at least 17 pounds in that time, and perhaps as much as 42 pounds, medical records indicate.
Duchesne County Attorney Stephen Foote didn't respond to over a dozen requests for comment by The Salt Lake Tribune since March. Last month, Foote declined specific comment on the case, saying his investigation was nearly finished. He hasn't responded to a half-dozen requests for comment since then.
Dan Burton, Reyes' spokesman, confirmed in an email Monday that the office would look into Jensen's death.
"The Office of the Attorney General has been asked by Duchesne County Attorney Stephen Foote to review the investigation into the death of Madison Jensen to determine whether any charges should be filed," Burton said. "The Attorney General's Office is often called upon to assist in the review of investigations of other agencies to determine whether an action is warranted."
In Duchesne in April, in his office that shares a building with the jail and sheriff's office, Foote read the definition of criminal negligence from the Utah codes.
"We have to look at every actor. Were their actions in violation of the criminal negligence [code]?" he said. "Just generally speaking, it would be very hard to prove … at trial that anyone was trying to kill Madison."
Foote said he was reviewing whether there was criminal negligence involved in Jensen's death.
He said there were issues with statements from other inmates who said they witnessed Jensen asking jailers for medical help, but he declined to elaborate on the record.
Numerous inmates and a medical request document contained in the medical examiner's report indicate Jensen sought medical help a day or two before she died.
Foote said he would release a timeline of what occurred after Jensen's father, Jared Jensen, called the sheriff's office to come to his house and help when his daughter was behaving erratically and threatened suicide. He said he called for help because his wife was ill and doctors said she couldn't handle any stress.
Jensen is one of at least 416 people to die in custody in Utah's prisons and county jails, according to an investigation by The Salt Lake Tribune. Tanna Jo Fillmore, 25, also a Duchesne County inmate, died of suicide a week before Jensen.
Records show Jensen had no opiates in her system, though she was taking Tramadol, an opiate painkiller, when she arrived. Medical experts say she could have been suffering painful withdrawals if she wasn't receiving that medication.
State medical examiners said Jensen died of cardiac arrhythmia caused by dehydration and opiate withdrawal.
Duchesne County Sheriff Dave Boren declined to answer questions about the case and the policies and procedures of the jail around medical treatment for inmates.
"Outside counsel has instructed me not to answer questions about the pending litigation in this matter," Boren wrote in a response to emailed questions this month.
Jared Jensen in March began steps required to sue the county. He said he had just finished getting his daughter's cattle ready for breeding Monday when he heard the state would consider criminal charges.
"I about cried," he said.
Jensen's death will be the second reviewed by Reyes' office in recent months.
State investigators wrapped up an investigation April 28 into the death of Heather Ashton Miller in the Davis County jail. Miller, 28, died after falling in the jail. Her spleen poured over a liter of blood into her abdomen as her health declined around Christmas. The office declined to charge any employee in Miller's death despite Weber County sheriff's investigators report criticizing the jail for cleaning up her cell a potential crime scene before investigators arrived.