(WKBN) – On Thursday, Attorney David Betras held a press conference to discuss the death of Betty Jean Winston. Winston was found dead in a Mercer County jail cell on July 26.
“What disturbs us about this case is the total lack of transparency and obviously procedures not followed in the Mercer County Jail to deal with mentally ill inmates,” Betras said.
During Thursday’s press conference, Betras stood with Winston’s family. Betras said Winston had schizophrenia and was in jail on a $15,000 bond for disorderly conduct.
“People don’t die in jail. People are not supposed to die in jail. People are supposed to be given the proper medical attention they need and if someone is mentally ill, they should have been admitted to the hospital,” Betras said.
According to Betras, Winston was hit with a stun gun and pepper spray by a Mercer County deputy prior to her death. However, in a statement, Mercer County District Attorney Pete Acker said that didn’t happen in the jail.
Betras is asking for an independent investigation into Winston’s death.
“It’s unacceptable that the agency that was responsible for her care is the same agency that is doing the investigation,” Betras said.
He’s also asking that tapes of her time from the jail be released.
“Pete Acker, I’m telling you. I know there’s tapes all over that jail. Why aren’t those tapes being released so the public knows and can see for themselves what happened to this woman?” Betras questioned.
In a statement, Acker said, “I doubt the Pennsylvania State Police will become involved in this investigation unless I ask them to do so. I see no reason at this time to make that request.”
An autopsy has been started for Winston in Erie, but the results have not come back yet.