Marshall County inmate charged with attempted murder of corrections officer

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MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. — Marshall County Jail inmates are the reason a corrections officer is still alive after a stabbing Saturday, Sheriff Phil Sims said Monday.

Sims said inmate Emily Sledge, 21, is charged with attempted murder for attacking corrections officer Melissa Woodall around 11 a.m. Saturday. Sledge stabbed Woodall with a pair of scissors, Sims said.

The attack happened as Woodall was moving Sledge from a holding cell and through a work cubicle, Sims said. Sledge hit Woodall and was able to get a pair of scissors from a drawer that she used to stab Woodall multiple times, Sims said.

Woodall was able to open the door to the main women’s cell block while being attacked, Sims said, and several of the inmates were able to come in and pull Sledge off of Woodall until more officers arrived.

Woodall was taken to Marshall Medical Center North for treatment. Sims said she was stabbed once in the arm and four times in the head — one of which just missed an artery behind her ear.

According to Sims, the holding cell Sledge was in at the time of the attack does not have a restroom and was not designed to be used as a holding cell, but it was being used that way because of overcrowding in the jail.

Sims told News the female side of the jail is designed to hold 19 inmates, but there are currently 50 being held there.

He said they are understaffed by nine corrections officers so there is only on corrections officer to watch the female population each shift.

The jail is overpopulated by about 36 inmates currently, according to Sims.

Online records show Sledge was booked into the jail April 28 on possession charges for methamphetamine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia, as well as a third-degree escape charge.

“As soon as the door opened, the fight was on,” said Sims.

He gave News 19 a tour Monday morning of the small area where the attack happened.

“In order to go to restroom, you have to walk this path here that I’m going. You have to actually walk through here to bathroom that’s right here. This is actually the work area where our corrections officers are at. It operates the booth, we operates the intercom system,” added Sims.

He credited inmates Valerie Moore, Katie Moore, Janice Brooks and Stephanie Grimstad with helping pull Sledge off of Woodall.

“She was able to reach up and unlock the door and the inmates came out and saved her life. Even under the circumstances they’re here, they chose to do what was right, they did the human thing,”
Sims said.

Sims said Woodall followed the training and protocol corrections officers have been given.

He told News 19 they will keep the scissors somewhere else until a solution to the overcrowding and no bathroom access for that particular holding cell is found.

Sims said that should be by next year once the jail renovation project, which addresses those issues, is completed.

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