Two former Island County corrections deputies accused of forging jail records after the 2015 death of an inmate appeared in court on Monday.
David Lind and Mark Moffitt stood before Island County Superior Court Judge Vickie Churchill with their attorneys and pleaded not guilty to charges of making a false statement in an official report, a gross misdemeanor.
When they worked in the jail, both men transported inmates to the same courtroom.
Lind and Moffitt got permission from the judge to skip the omnibus hearings, the usual next step in the proceedings. Moffitt’s attorney, Craig Platt of Coupeville, said his client resides in Texas.
Gross misdemeanor cases are normally held in district court, but this case was filed in superior court because the larger court is better equipped to handle media interest or a complex trial, officials said.
A TV news cameraman was in court Monday to tape the hearing.
Lind and Moffitt are accused of changing jail log entries and lying about whether they had been checking in on Keaton Farris before he died in his cell from dehydration and malnutrition April 7, according to court documents. Detective Ed Wallace discovered the deception after comparing the log entries to surveillance video, his report states.
Farris had been suffering from mental-health problems and was held in a “safety cell.” Jail personnel turned off the water to his cell after he flooded it and provided him with a fraction of the water he needed to survive during his 12-day stay in the jail.
Jail staff did not check on him as protocol required and did not note necessary information and observations.
A jail nurse wasn’t called to examine Farris until the day before he died and she only made a cursory observation through the window of his cell.
The Island County prosecutor asked Whatcom County Prosecutor David McEachran’s office to look into the incident and decide whether to file any criminal charges. McEachran declined to file any charges related to Farris’ death, saying that the negligence was too widespread to hold any one person accountable.
The FBI is also investigating the in-custody death.