November 8, 2011

Inmate dies at Augusta jail

By Betty Adams
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — An inmate at the Kennebec County jail was found dead in his cell just before 5 a.m.

Sheriff Randall Liberty identified the man as Nicholas Michael Powell, 22, whose most recent address was in Lewiston.

The death is under investigation, and the state medical examiner was scheduled to do an autopsy today.

Liberty said Powell appeared to be sleeping during the 4 a.m. check, but he did not wake up when his cell was unlocked at 4:50 a.m. so he could begin his work as a trusty in the jail kitchen.

Jail personnel and Augusta Rescue were called to assist.

“All attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful,” Liberty said today.

Court and jail records show that Powell was serving a nine-month sentence for violating probation on a domestic violence assault conviction. He had come into the jail in Augusta in September.

Once that sentence ended, he was to pay a fine of $440 for failing to appear in court on a contempt charge or pay it off at a rate of $50 per day by remaining in jail.

“He was no trouble as an inmate and was working well inside,” Liberty said. "He was an inside trusty and hadn’t earned his way out yet.”

As a trusty, Powell was earning a day off his sentence for each two days worked.

Liberty said he talked to Powell’s family members, and they told him there was a history of cardiac problems in the family and that Powell had a heart murmur.

Records also show that Powell grew up in the northern end of Kennebec County, with addresses in Clinton, Fairfield and family in Oakland.

Liberty said Powell had past a drug screening test Monday afternoon, a requirement for inmates who want to  work as trusties outside the jail. The investigation has not eliminated the possibility of drug use after the screening.

Powell’s previous record included convictions for burglary of a motor vehicle and theft.


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