County commissioners vote to offer settlement in suit over inmate's death

Anthony Huff

ENID, Okla. — Garfield County commissioners have voted to offer a settlement in a civil case brought by the family of an inmate who died in the county's detention facility in 2016.

The commissioners voted unanimously June 17 to authorize Chairman Mark Bolz "to make a settlement offer as discussed in the executive session" of that same date, in the case of the Estate of Anthony Huff v. Garfield County Detention Center, according to a legal notice provided for publication in the News & Eagle. No terms of the settlement were disclosed.

Anthony Huff died in June 2016 in jail custody after being confined for more than two days to a restraint chair.

The civil case was filed by James Graham, Huff's brother and special administrator for his estate, in September 2017, and is set to proceed in the wake of three years of criminal proceedings that netted little jail time for Huff's death. The lawsuit is seeking actual and compensatory damages in excess of $75,000, as well as punitive damages, attorneys fees and costs.

Former Garfield County jail administrator Jennifer Shay Niles was sentenced April 30 to 55 hours in Alfalfa County Jail after pleading guilty March 11 to an amended charge of second-degree manslaughter in Huff's death. Niles also was given a six-year deferred sentence and was ordered to pay a $1,000 assessment in lieu of a fine, pay $250 to the victims' compensation fund, pay costs and fees, and to have 24 months of supervision.

Jailers John Robert Markus and Shawn Caleb Galusha also entered their pleas March 11 before Texas County District Judge Jon Parsley.

Galusha entered a plea of no contest to his amended charge as part of a deal with prosecutors. He received a three-year deferred sentence, was ordered to serve 55 hours in Alfalfa County Jail, pay a $1,000 assessment, $250 to the victims compensation fund, $25 jail costs and all other court costs.

Markus pleaded guilty to his amended charge of second-degree manslaughter and received a four-year suspended sentence and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, $250 to the victims compensation fund, $25 jail costs and all other court costs.

In February, Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals voted 5-0 to deny a prosecutor's request to have Garfield County Sheriff Jerry Niles face a charge of first-degree manslaughter in Huff's death.

Sheriff Niles, who placed himself on paid suspension July 28, 2017, submitted a letter of retirement to the commissioners earlier this month. The letter was file stamped June 3, 2019, the same day the sheriff was set for jury trial on two misdemeanor counts of nepotism. As of May 31, Niles had received $120,394.72 in pay since his suspension, records show.

Clint Claypole, who is one of the attorneys representing Huff's estate in the civil suit, said as of Monday afternoon he had not received any settlement offer from county commissioners and could not comment any further.

Bolz was not immediately available for comment Monday afternoon.

Staff writer Cass Rains contributed to this story.

Click for the latest, full-access Enid News & Eagle headlines | Text Alerts | app downloads

Neal is health, military affairs and religion reporter and columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @jamesnealwriter, and online at jamesrneal.com. He can be reached at jneal@enidnews.com.

React to this story:

0
0
1
2
6

Recommended for you