SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – A family is puzzled after a Duchesne County judge dismissed charged accused of causing the death of their daughter.
Thursday, Judge Lyle Anderson threw out the case against Nurse Jana Clyde following a preliminary hearing.
Clyde was charged with negligent homicide for the death of Madison Jensen. The 21-year old died after spending four days in the Duchesne County jail. A medical examiner testified she died from extreme dehydration which could have been prevented with IV fluids.
State prosecutors claimed Clyde failed to give her treatment despite warnings from jailers about Jensen’s health.
Judge Anderson said Clyde didn’t do anything out of the ordinary and there was insufficient evidence that Clyde’s handling of the situation caused Jensen’s death.”
“All she (Clyde) did was give my daughter Gatorade,” said Jared Jensen after Thursday’s ruling. “This shows you can cause a death at a jail and no one will be held responsible.”
A former prosecutor and now a defense attorney said the judge didn’t agree with the evidence produced by the state.
“If there is elements of the crime missing that have not been shown then it is not rare to see a case booted out at a preliminary hearing,” said Kent Morgan
But it’s only happened twice in recent years. In Salt Lake, the case against Shaun Cowley was dismissed following a preliminary hearing. At the time, Cowley was a West Valley police officer accused of wrong doing.
One of his attorneys was Paul Cassell, a former federal judge and currently a law professor at the University of Utah.
“I think sometimes prosecutors take the facts of the case and frankly, just misunderstand what the facts show and that was the situation in the Cowley case and potentially that’s the situation here,” said Cowley. “That’s what the judge is saying.”
Madison Jensen’s family disagreed, telling News 4 Utah there was so such evidence presented.
“How can a young woman die in jail that gave notice to the jail of her issues and symptoms and not one person is held liable for it,” said her father. “It’s a simple question that needs resolved.”
Cassell said the family could get answers based on what the Attorney General’s office decides to do. It was the agency’s prosecutors that handled the case in Duchesne County.
“Most cases don’t have a chance of an appeal,” said Cassell. But given the great depth that is given to prosecutors at a preliminary hearing, I think this appeal may very well succeed.”
A spokesperson for the Attorney General said they are considering their options including an appeal.