Capital murder suspect found dead in cell

Brett Michael Birdwell found dead in cell.
Brett Michael Birdwell found dead in cell.

Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

Released by Captain Mike Claxton with the Gregg County Sheriff's Office:

GREGG COUNTY, TX - A Texas Ranger and Sheriff's investigators are investigating a custodial death this morning of Brett Michael Birdwell in the Gregg County South Jail Facility. Birdwell was found by Jailers at 5:25 am unresponsive. The death is being worked as a suicide.

"Birdwell was arrested on May 17, 2008 on a Capital Murder warrant charging him with the deaths of Neil and June Killingsworth of Longview", according to Captain Mike Claxton. Birdwell was in a separation cell at the time of his discovery and had been in custody for 502 days.

"Birdwell was discovered unresponsive this morning by Jailers who were performing a regular walk and visual inspection of the housing units in the facility", Claxton said. "Our on-duty medical staff found no signs of life during an assessment", Claxton added. Birdwell had been indicted by a Gregg County grand jury and was in-custody awaiting an expected trial in early 2010.

The investigation by Texas Rangers and investigators is on-going and is standard for custodial deaths in our facilities. Judge BH Jameson was called to the facility this morning to hold an inquest and pronounce Birdwell deceased. Jameson ordered an autopsy be performed at the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office. "We expect an initial determination on the cause and manner sometime on Thursday," Claxton said.