An attorney for an inmate who died Saturday in the Tulsa jail feared his client was incompetent to stand trial, was “delusional,” and did not understand his attorney’s role in his defense, records show.
Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Justin Green told News On 6 on Saturday that a 54-year-old male had died in the jail, but did not identify the deceased inmate. Tulsa County jail records show that Danny Jay Watters was released from jail 7:47 p.m. Saturday. Under “reason” for release, it lists “deceased.”
Green told News on 6 that there were no signs of trauma on the deceased inmate’s body.
According to Oklahoma State Department of Health records, Watters is the 20th person to die in the Tulsa Jail since 2010.
Complete data for all the deceased inmates is not available. The state health department has only released information listing dates of death for the victims.
Watters was arrested July 20 and is charged with stalking, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. An arrest affidavit filed in the stalking case states that Watters called a woman 18 times between July 14 and July 18, claiming to be married to her. The woman, who had an active protective order against Watters, told police she had never been married to him.
Watters, according to the affidavit, mentioned the protective order on some of the messages he left the woman. He was charged in 2013 with stalking the same woman, and eventually pleaded guilty, receiving a deferred sentence last April.
In Watters’ most recent case, he refused to meet with an employee of the Tulsa County Public Defender’s Office who was attempting to serve him with notice of his competency hearing.
Travis Smith, who identified himself in court documents as Watters’ attorney, said his client had “delusional conversations with fixation on celebrity ideations.”
“(Watters) is unable to understand my role and function as his attorney. He presented many delusional topics for which I was unable to have a meaningful conversation,” Smith wrote in the application for a determination of Watters’ competency.
A Frontier investigation earlier this year showed that the sheriff’s office had spent at least $700,000 defending itself against lawsuits, five of which were filed as a result of deaths inside the jail.
In an interview with The Frontier in May, Glanz said outside legal services used to defend lawsuits arising from the operation of the jail are paid for through the jail operating account.
About 85 percent of the funds in that account come from the quarter-cent jail tax approved by voters in 1995. The remaining 15 percent comes from revenues raised by the Sheriff’s Office through fees as part of operating the jail.
“If a case involves the jail, then those funds should come from jail money,” Glanz said.
Deaths in the Tulsa County Jail
Source: Oklahoma State Department of Health