Saturday, September 23, 2023

Man, 66, dies of heart disease at Virginia Beach jail, sheriff’s office says

James Baker, 66, died in his cell at the Virginia Beach Correctional Center, according to the sheriff's office. (Courtesy VBSO)
James Baker, 66, died in his cell at the Virginia Beach Correctional Center, according to the sheriff’s office. (Courtesy VBSO)

VIRGINIA BEACH — A 66-year-old man was pronounced dead on Thursday morning after being found unresponsive in his bunk at the Virginia Beach Correctional Center.

Jail staff found James Baker unresponsive in his bunk during an 8 a.m. cell inspection. About eight minutes before that, a sheriff’s deputy had seen Baker alive during normal rounds performed in the cell block, according to a Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office news release.

Baker was being held in a cell pod with other inmates. He was seen walking around and talking with other people at breakfast, said Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Kathy Hieatt.

A nurse tried to give Baker CPR, and other medical staff, including a physician, responded to the cell to attend to him. He was pronounced dead by emergency medical workers at 8:42 a.m., according to a VBSO news release.

An autopsy has been performed on Baker, and the medical examiner determined that he died of heart disease.

His death is under investigation by the Virginia Beach Police Department and the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office Professional Standards Office.

Baker was booked into the jail on Sept. 17 on charges of felony identity fraud, felony distribution of a schedule I or schedule II drug and a misdemeanor failure to appear, according to the VBSO.

Schedule I controlled substances, which have high potential for abuse, include heroin and marijuana, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Schedule II drugs include cocaine, fentanyl, Vicodin, methamphetamine and methadone.

His death comes a little over a year after a 57-year-old man named Francis Phillip Charrette was found dead in the jail’s detox block. He faced a charge for felony possession of a Schedule I or Schedule II drug.

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