Texas Rangers investigate inmate death at Smith County Jail

Carlos Jose Hernandez, Jr

The Texas Rangers were investigating the death of a Smith County jail inmate after the man was found hanging in his cell early Monday morning.

Carlos Jose Hernandez Jr., 21, of Troup was booked into the jail on several drug related charges about 4:15 a.m. Sunday.

Because of his response to pre-booking questions, Hernandez was placed on suicide watch, according to a Smith County Sheriff's Office news release.

As part of that watch, the jail staff conducted checks on Hernandez every 10 minutes, including at 12:02 a.m. and 12:11 a.m., when he was observed sleeping, the news release reads.

The observation logs and video camera footage show the checks were made properly and in the time required, according to the news release.

During the 12:20 a.m. check, Hernandez was found hanging in the shower area of the cell by a ligature made from a portion of a suicide resistant blanket, Sheriff Larry Smith said.

Jail staff immediately declared a medical emergency and took Hernandez down from the ligature. The Tyler Fire Department and EMS arrived at the jail and determined the inmate was deceased. 

Smith notified the Texas Rangers, who, along with Smith County Sheriff's Office crime scene investigators, documented the scene and contacted a Justice of the Peace.

Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 Judge Quincy Beavers came to the jail, held an inquest and ordered an autopsy to be performed at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Science, Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office.

Hernandez had been arrested on charges of possession of marijuana, less than 2 ounces; possession or delivery of drug paraphernalia; and possession of at least 2 grams, but no more than 28 grams of a controlled substance in penalty group 3, according to Smith County judicial records.

His bonds totaled $8,500, but he could not bond out because he was held on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer.

Smith County judicial records show Hernandez was incarcerated in the Smith County Jail on two previous occasions.

In December 2016, Hernandez was held in the jail for three days on charges of criminal trespass and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

On Feb. 18, he was held on charges of manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance in penalty group 3 and for a prohibited weapon.

Hernandez's next of kin were notified and the Texas Rangers were continuing to investigate the incident, according to Smith County officials. 


TWITTER: @LouAnnCampbell



Crime and Breaking News Reporter

I started working at the Tyler Morning Telegraph in June 2016. I am a retired U.S. Air Force Sr. Master Sergeant. After a 21-year military career, in Security Forces, the military police of the Air Force, I went back to college and studied journalism.

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