Man awaiting trial on statutory rape charges dies
April 12, 2003
A man awaiting trial on statutory rape charges was found dead Thursday after hanging himself with a bed sheet in a Douglas County Jail cell.
It was the fourth suicide in the jail in three years.
Joshua Nicholas Hockenhull, 22, was found by on-duty deputies who responded to his cellblock about 8 p.m., according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
About 5 p.m. Thursday, Hockenhull spoke with a jailer for about 20 minutes and there was no indication anything was wrong, Sheriff Ron Pierini said. “Part of the screening we do is for suicidal (watch),” Pierini said. “We had absolutely no idea this was on his agenda.
“The thing is it can happen so fast, within 5 to 10 minutes. If a person wishes to do this, and has it in their mind to do this, they can succeed.”
Jailers reported that Hockenhull was not a problem inmate and he was checked by jail staff about 7 p.m. There was no indication to jail staff Hockenhull was experiencing any difficulties.
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Hockenhull was awaiting trial in Douglas County on two counts of statutory sexual seduction. He was also charged with three felony sexual assault charges involving children under the age of 18 in El Dorado County .
Deputies removed Hockenhull and, with the aid of another inmate, CPR was administered, Pierini said.
Hockenhull was taken to Carson Valley Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
Hockenhull had been in the Douglas County Jail since Feb. 7. He listed his home address as the Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, Calif.
The Douglas County and Washoe County sheriff’s offices are investigating the incident.
In August 2001, a Douglas County grand jury report concluded three suicides at the jail the same year may reflect a staffing shortage at the jail.
That year, a man had overdosed on illegal substances before entering the jail, and later died in his cell. It was ruled by the coroner as a suicide. In January 2001, another inmate intentionally overdosed one day into his murder and rape trial.
And in May 2001 a 27-year-old man was found hanged in his cell. He had just begun serving a six-month sentence for a probation violation stemming from a bad check charge.
Before the grand jury report came out, additional measures to prevent jail suicides were already in place, including additional staffing, Pierini said.
The jail is equipped with several camera pods to monitor jail cells. Additionally, rounds are made hourly and jailers speak with inmates in an effort to gauge their state of mind, Pierini said.
In the past two months, two inmates have been saved by jailers after trying to commit suicide, Pierini said.
And this week, jailers attended a seminar on suicide prevention, along with Washoe County jailers.