LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) -Authorities say a Sheffield man was indicted in connection with the death of an inmate in the Lauderdale County Jail back in February.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Joe Hamilton told News 19 that on March 20, officers served an indictment on 27-year-old Russell Lyn Reatherford of Sheffield for felony murder, unlawful distribution of a controlled substance and second-degree promoting prison contraband.
Investigators with the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office presented evidence to a grand jury, which Hamilton said shows Reatherford supplied 37-year-old inmate Harley James Coyer with a lethal amount of fentanyl.
Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office corrections deputies were alerted by other inmates that a man was unresponsive in his cell on February 14, around 7 p.m. That man was identified as Coyer. Authorities said life-saving measures were immediately begun but Coyer was not able to be revived, and the Lauderdale County Coroner pronounced him dead.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Joe Hamilton told News 19 that the incident likely occurred after 5:00 p.m., which is the last time that Coyer was seen by deputies.
Coyer had been in the Lauderdale County Detention Center since May 24, 2022. He was arrested on several charges including attempting to elude, resisting arrest, and unlawful possession of a controlled substance.
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Hamilton said Reatherford was already an inmate in the Lauderdale County Detention Center and shared a cell with Coyer. He was brought into the detention center on warrants the day before Coyer’s death.
Reatherford remains in the detention center at this time, the sheriff said.