Inmate remains in critical condition after hanging incident

Published 4:25 pm Wednesday, December 20, 2017

An inmate found hanging in his cell at the Carter County Detention Center on Tuesday afternoon remains in critical condition at a local hospital.

Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford identified the inmate as Donovan Kimberlin, 18, of Bluff City. Kimberlin was being held in the detention center on charges of aggravated domestic assault and vandalism. According to court documents, Kimberlin has been held at the detention center since Dec. 6 since his arrest on the outstanding warrant.

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Around 3:45 p.m. on Monday, a Corrections Officer at the jail found Kimberlin hanging in his cell. Lunceford said the inmate had tied a sheet to his bunk bed. According to Lunceford, Kimberlin was alone in the cell at the time of the incident.

The Carter County Rescue Squad was called to the scene and transported Kimberlin to a local hospital. Lunceford said Kimberlin was then transferred to another medical facility for continued treatment.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is currently looking into the incident at the jail.

“At the request of 1st District Attorney General Tony Clark, TBI Special Agents are investigating the circumstances surrounding the discovery of a Carter County inmate found hanging in his cell on December 19th,” TBI Spokesperson Leslie Earhart told the Elizabethton Star on Wednesday. “Though preliminary information indicates no apparent foul play, our investigation remains active and ongoing.”

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, Kimberlin appeared in Carter County General Sessions Court on the charges against him. Kimberlin waived his right to a preliminary hearing in the case, and the charges were bound over to the Grand Jury. Judge Keith Bowers Jr. reduced Kimberlin’s bond from $15,500 to $2,000 and ordered him to have no contact with the alleged victim in the case. Kimberlin is scheduled to appear in Carter County Criminal Court on March 19, 2018.

The charges against Kimberlin stem from an investigation by the Elizabethton Police Department into a report of a domestic assault on Oct. 27. On that day, officers responded to a city apartment after a 911 caller reported a domestic disturbance.

At the apartment, officers spoke to a woman who told officers her boyfriend, whom she identified as Kimberlin, had threatened her with a hammer and grabbed her by her throat, which caused her respiratory distress. Officers noted seeing red marks around the woman’s throat. According to court documents, the woman was 38 weeks pregnant at the time of the alleged assault.