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updated: 6/6/2014 5:44 PM

Judge throws out lawsuit over 2012 Kane jail suicide

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  • Keith Renfroe Jr.

    Keith Renfroe Jr.


A judge this week dismissed a lawsuit filed by relatives of a 20-year-old Minnesota man who committed suicide at the Kane County jail in May 2012.

Attorneys for the county argued the lawsuit by the mother of Keith Renfroe Jr. was filed after the one-year statute of limitations, that the county and sheriff were protected under the Tort Immunity Act and the lawsuit didn't make any specific, factual allegations, according to court records.

"Plaintiff's second amended complaint lacks specificity to a number of crucial allegations, including, whether Renfroe died as a result of his own actions, or how he died at all," wrote Assistant State's Attorney Erin Gaeke in her motion to dismiss the lawsuit. "Moreover, despite alleging that the defendant's allegations were 'willful and wanton,' plaintiff does not provide any facts to support such claims." Gaeke also argued the lawsuit was filed May 24, 2013, which was two days beyond the one-year statute of limitations.

Renfroe, of Cottage Grove, Minnesota, died May 22, 2012. He was staying with relatives that month and was arrested after police said he forced his way into a house in Gilberts and then hid in the bathroom until police arrived.

The Kane County coroner's office concluded Renfroe's death was the result of asphyxia due to ligature strangulation, which is when a person is strangled without being hanged.

An internal sheriff's report concluded there was no negligence on behalf of jail personnel and that Renfroe used a shirt to kill himself.

A report from Renfroe's arrest said he told Gilberts police he drank alcohol and smoked methamphetamine before breaking into the home.

A toxicology report did not show any illegal substances in his system.

A message left for David Robertson, the attorney who represented Lashawnda Renfroe in the case, was not returned.

Renfroe's suicide was the second at the jail since May 2012. A 52-year-old South Elgin woman killed herself in August 2013 while awaiting sentencing.

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