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Alyxzandria Elizabeth Smatana Dies in Grayson County Jail in Sherman, Texas – Texas Rangers Investigate

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3d interior Jail

The Grayson County Sheriff’s Department filed a custodial death report with the State of Texas regarding the death of Alyxzandria Elizabeth Smatana.  Ms. Smatana was only 29  years old at the time of her death.  Information in this post was obtained from that report, and we make no allegation of any wrongdoing against anyone related to Ms. Smatana’s death. 

The Grayson County Sheriff’s Department is in Sherman, Texas, as is the Grayson County jail.  The summary of what occurred in the death report was fairly short, and reads in its entirety:

“On 08/18/2020, Alyxzandria Elizabeth Smatana (Inmate) was booked into the Grayson County Detention Facility (GCDF) after she was arrested for possession of a controlled substance in penalty group one, under one gram (heroin). On 08/19/2020, at approximately 2:05 PM, Inmate Smatana began to displayed seizure-like symptoms in her cell. Medical staff performed first-aid measures until Sherman Emergency Medical Services (EMS) transported her to the Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center emergency room. On 08/21/2020 at 12:36 PM, Inmate Smatana was pronounced deceased at Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center by Justice of the Peace Atherton. The Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas conducted an autopsy, and the results are pending. The investigation by the Texas Rangers is ongoing into the in-custody death of Inmate Smatana.”

The Grayson County Sheriff’s Department did not provide answers in the report as to the manner of death description, code of charges, medical treatment description, death code, custody code, and whether Ms. Smatana was intoxicated.  However, the report does indicate that Ms. Smatana exhibited mental health problems. 

Unfortunately, it is far too common for young people to die in Texas jails.  Jailers must be aware of medical and mental health needs of people in their care. 

When the Texas Rangers conduct an investigation, as with Ms. Smatana’s death, they do so only to determine whether there is any criminal liability for what occurred.  Aside from criminal liability, jailers, and Texas counties, towns, and cities, can be liable for the deaths of inmates if jailers are deliberately indifferent to, or act unreasonably regarding, a Texas county jail inmate’s medical needs and/or mental health needs, and/or if a town, city, or county has a policy, practice, and/or custom which is a moving force behind, and/or caused, the death of an inmate.  Certain surviving family members have causes of action for such a death, and these rights are established by the United States Constitution.  Depending on when a death occurs, the guarantee may fall under the Fourth Amendment or the Fourteenth Amendment.  Such lawsuits are usually filed in federal court in Texas by a Texas civil rights attorney. 

Written By: author image Dean Malone
author image Dean Malone
Dean Malone is the founder of Law Offices of Dean Malone, P.C., a jail neglect civil rights law firm. Mr. Malone earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Texas at Dallas, graduating summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA, and from Baylor University School of Law with a general civil litigation concentration. Mr. Malone served in several staff positions for the Baylor Law Review, including executive editor. Mr. Malone is an experienced trial lawyer, trying a number of cases to jury verdict and also handling arbitrations through final hearing. He heads the jail neglect section of his law firm, in which lawyers litigate cases involving serious injury and death resulting from jail neglect and abuse. Lawyers frequently refer cases to Mr. Malone due to his focus on this very complicated civil rights practice area.