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updated: 8/26/2013 2:03 PM

Attorney: Woman's suicide at Kane County jail 'maddening'

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Authorities continue to investigate the suicide of a 52-year-old South Elgin woman who was awaiting sentencing at Kane County jail in the wake of a domestic disturbance at her home in October 2012.

Terry A. Hart, of the 100 block of Woodrow Avenue, was found hanging in her cell at about 1:45 p.m. Friday and pronounced dead at Delnor Hospital about three hours later, Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez said.

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Kathleen Colton, Hart's attorney, questioned how inmates could continue to harm themselves at the jail.

"Part of the problem is lack of training. Part of the problem is lack of caring," Colton said. "It's the year 2013. It's just maddening that these things continue to happen in a facility that's closely monitored."

Hart's death marks the second suicide at the jail since May 2012. Authorities concluded that Keith Renfroe Jr., 20, of Minnesota, strangled himself. His family is suing the sheriff's department and the next court date is Oct. 17.

Hart was awaiting sentencing after a two-day jury trial two weeks ago in which she was found guilty of aggravated battery and three counts of resisting arrest. She faced anywhere from probation to seven years in prison, although that was unlikely because she had no previous felony convictions in Kane County.

After Hart was convicted a judge revoked her bond. Hart also was wanted on a warrant from a felony charge out of Arizona from about five or six years ago and authorities were considering extraditing her, Colton said. Colton said she did not know the specifics of the charge.

Perez said the investigation into Hart's death is "ongoing" and detectives are still interviewing medical personnel.

Perez said Hart was not on suicide watch and yet her cell was checked every 30 minutes. Inmates on suicide watch, such as Renfroe, have their cells checked every 15 minutes and Renfroe harmed himself within that window.

Perez said Hart's death was "an unfortunate incident" and that his jail staff handles 10,000 people a year.

"I'm not going to let this be turned into a political football," he said. "Whether it's in the jail or outside of our facility, if a person has the desire to take their own life there's not much anyone can do."

Perez defended the training of jail staff. He stressed that not only are guards trained to supervise inmates, they provided CPR and other aid to Hart after she was found hanging.

These episodes leave a mark on jail personnel who render aid, Perez said.

"It's a very traumatic event for them as well and they have to take that with them. That side of the story does generally not make it (into a news story) and I want to make sure it does," Perez said.

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