Investigation launched into Vt. inmate's death - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Investigation launched into Vt. inmate's death

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Shayn Turner Shayn Turner

Shayn Turner could have spent the rest of his life in prison, but was only weeks into his 40-year sentence when he was pronounced dead early Tuesday morning at the St. Albans correctional facility.

"He observed the inmate in what could be medical distress at this point, I would not want to call it anything else just yet because we really just don't know," said Greg Hale, the superintendent of the Northwest State Correctional Facility.

Hale says a guard found Turner having seizures during a routine check around 2:30 a.m.

Turner was serving time for repeatedly raping a 7-year-old girl, recoding the attacks, and then trading the videos online. Turner was already on probation at the time for being the getaway driver in a South Burlington bank robbery back in 2004.

Prison officials say personnel had swept the area for contraband like drugs and weapons just two weeks ago.

"We have shakedowns every day. And what that essentially means is kind of slang for a search. So a shakedown usually refers to a cell search. We typically do one in every unit every day," Hale explained.

Hale says Turner's cellmate was there at the time of the death, but it is unclear if he saw or heard anything. Hale says the investigation has been turned over to the Vermont state police. Overdose, medical issue or even allergic reaction-- Hale says nothing is being ruled out yet.

"There are so many unknowns at this point," he said. "Until we have an autopsy result and the state police finish their end, really the door is wide open."

The superintendent says he isn't aware of Turner having a history of seizures. Officials are awaiting toxicology reports after an autopsy is complete to see if there was anything in his system. At this point, nothing at the scene in Turner's cell indicates foul play.

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