Sebastian County Inmate Suffered From Rare Pneumonia, Death Officially Listed As ‘Undetermined’

FORT SMITH (KFSM) — Officials were unable to determine a cause of death for a Sebastian County inmate who died in March, but noted he was suffering from a rare form of bacterial pneumonia in his lungs.

Arkansas State Police opened an investigation after Douglas Jay Gunter, 64, died after experiencing some breathing problems while being held at the Sebastian County Detention Center.

Sebastian County sheriff’s deputies found Gunter on the floor of his cell around 4:40 a.m. on March 9. He appeared to have struck his head and a small amount of blood was found in the holding cell.

Gunter was taken to Baptist Health Regional Medical Center where he died.

An autopsy at the state Crime Lab found Gunter was suffering from multi-focal necrotizing bronchopneumonia, which appeared to be linked with his rib fracture.

Crime lab doctors said the disease is a “severe complication of bacterial pneumonia” with “no firm guidelines outlining recommend medical care.”

However, without being able to determine when Gunter injured his rib, doctors listed the cause of death as undetermined.

The crime lab noted the autopsy could be amended if more information surfaces, and added that Gunter had no head trauma.

Sebastian County prosecuting attorney Daniel Shue said because state police’s investigation didn’t reveal how Gunter’s injury occurred, he couldn’t file criminal charges in Gunter’s death.

“There is on indication when (the rib injury) may have occurred,” he said. “It may have happened sometime prior to his incarceration.”

Gunter had been jailed in October 2018 in connection with aggravated assault.

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