Autopsy: Mentally ill NC inmate died of thirst

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — An autopsy report says a North Carolina inmate with severe mental illness died of thirst after being held in solitary confinement.

The report released Thursday by the North Carolina Medical Examiner's Office says Michael Anthony Kerr died of severe dehydration.

The 53-year-old inmate was found unresponsive in the back of a van March 12 after being driven from Alexander Correctional Institution to the mental hospital at Central Prison in Raleigh.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety subsequently fired a captain and four nurses at Alexander. A nurse and a staff psychologist resigned.

In her autopsy report, pathologist Dr. Susan E. Venuti says state prison officials declined to provide her key information about the circumstances leading to Kerr's death, including when the inmate last had access to food and water.

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