The Llano County Grand Jury handed down two indictments last Tuesday charging two Llano County Sheriff officers with injury to a disabled person by omission.
The charges were handed down following an investigation by the State of Texas into the August 6, 2011 death of 45-year-old Shawn Appell, who died while in the Llano County Jail. Appell was found on that day at around 5:35 pm dead in his cell.
Appell had been at the jail since April 22 after being arrested by the Llano Police Department on charges of criminal mischief
According to the indictments, Llano County jailers Scottie Scoggins and Donny Stewart allegedly caused serious bodily injury to Appell by failing to stop Appell from injuring himself, failing to restrain him, failing to seek emergency medical care after the injuries occurred, and failing to provide medical care after he re-injured himself.
Scoggins was charged with a first degree felony, for ‘knowingly or recklessly, by omission’ causing the injuries. Stewart was given a lesser charge of second degree felony for ‘recklessly, by omission’ causing the injuries. Bonds were set at $50,000 and $30,000, respectively.
Scoggins and Stewart turned themselves in on July 11 and were released on personal recognizance bonds.
Mike Shaunessy, attorney for Llano County, said that they (county officials) were very sorry about Shawn Appell’s death, and sent their sympathy to the family.
He also said that neither of the two jailers had done anything wrong, and he believed that the two would be acquitted.
According to Shaunessy, the Llano County Jail did everything they could to get Appell help and that he was treated well for the duration of his stay at the facility.
He stated that there were periods of time when Appell needed and received psychiatirc care, and that when Appell began to have ‘an episode’ on Friday, August 5 of last year, that officers did everything they could to get him into a facility that would help him.
Unfortunately, he said, the number of psychiatric and forensic beds available has decreased due to budget cutbacks at the state level.
Shaunessy said that there are no jails in the State of Texas that are capable or qualified to deal with pyschiatric episodes.
Texas Rangers were called in immediately following Appell’s death and found no wrong doing on behalf of the jail or its staff.
The Texas Commission on Jail Standards likewise found no wrongdoing, according to Shaunessy.
Scoggins and Stewart have been suspended with pay at this time.
At this time, it is unknown when the trials will be scheduled.
The case is being handled by the State and representatives from the State of Texas Attorney General’s office declined to comment in the case.