Nurse to face trial in inmate’s death, state appeals court rules

Posted at 7:56 AM, Jun 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-15 09:56:46-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Court of Appeals has reinstated the case against a former jail nurse facing negligent homicide.

Jana Clyde will now go on trial on a misdemeanor charge in the death of 21-year-old Madison Jensen, who died in the Duchesne Co. Jail in 2016 of severe dehydration. Prosecutors accused Clyde of failing to offer the appropriate care.

Prosecutors claimed that Clyde didn’t take enough action to help Jensen, who was booked into jail on drug charges. When she was booked into jail, Jensen weighed 127 lbs. Over the next four days, deputies testified, they saw that Jensen was ill. She was reported to be vomiting and have diarrhea.

Clyde, prosecutors claimed, only offered her a bottle of Gatorade. When she was found dead in her cell, the state alleged, Jensen weighed 87 lbs.

At a preliminary hearing last year, a judge in eastern Utah dismissed the case.

“Ultimately, the magistrate concluded that he ‘definitely ha[d] evidence that [for Clyde] to not do something immediately was a deviation from the standard of care’ but that there was ‘no direct evidence that it was a gross deviation,’ as required for criminal negligence. Unable to ‘bridge’ the gap between ordinary negligence and criminal negligence without such evidence, the magistrate dismissed the charges against Clyde,” the Court wrote.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office appealed. In its ruling, the Court reversed the judge’s decision and ordered Clyde to face trial.

“We accordingly express no opinion on the merits of the State’s case but conclude that the State presented ‘reasonably believable evidence . . . sufficient to sustain each element of’ negligent homicide,” the ruling states.

Read the ruling here: