MADRAS, OR -- Three Jefferson County deputies charged with Criminally Negligent Homicide, stemming from the death of an inmate, were found "Not Guilty," on Tuesday. In April of 2017, 59-year-old James Wippel, of Portland, was arrested by Warm Springs Police for several drug related charges; he was reportedly detoxing while in custody when he died. Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins tells KBND News, "This was a tragedy. This guy had an ulcer that was in there for months, if not years. It ruptured, and it ruptured a(n) artery, and when it ruptured, it happened very rapidly." Deputy Michael Durkan, Deputy Cory Skidgel and Corporal Anthony Hansen were on duty at the time of Wippel's death. They were indicted by a Grand Jury, last spring.
Following the bench trial, Judge Daina Vitolins said evidence didn't prove Wippel would've survived if he'd received medical care more quickly. Sheriff Adkins tells KBND News, "I said in the very beginning that I believed in the system and that I would trust God to get us through this. So, we've gone through the investigation, we've come out the other side, and I think we're better off for it." He also says the agency has taken steps to make sure something like this doesn't happen again. "We're better prepared today than we were back then to handle a person who is detoxing hard from heroine, and who may exhibit the same type of symptoms as this."
Adkins says the verdict means his office can finally move forward. "It's very important for my office, and for the deputies themselves. I can get them back to work, and it means that my office can start to heal now." Durkan, Skidgel and Hansen will return to work next week, after nearly a year on paid administrative leave.
Photo: One acquitted Deputy hugs his wife, following Tuesday's "not guilty" verdict. Courtesy John Stevens, "Ranch Matters."