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Lawsuit filed over 2019 jailhouse suicide in Wichita

February 21, 2022 GMT

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A civil lawsuit has been filed over the jail suicide of a Wichita man charged with killing an elderly Army veteran.

KAKE-TV reports that the suit, which was filed Friday, alleges that Sedgwick County commissioners and the sheriff are at fault in the death of 36-year-old Austin Stewart. He was found dead in his cell in May 2019 of self-inflicted asphyxiation.

Stewart was charged with first-degree murder, aggravated robbery and theft in the November 2018 beating and asphyxiation death of 88-year-old Floyd Gilbert.

Court records say Gilbert died during an attempted robbery. Stewart and another man apparently targeted Gilbert because they thought he kept cash and guns in a safe in his home.

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The suit alleged that Stewart was already on suicide watch following a prior attempt months prior and ended his life “a very short distance from where deputies were stationed. The suit says Stewart’s body was not discovered for over an hour and a half.

A spokesman for the county didn’t immediately respond to an email message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

A release from David Miller, the attorney for Stewart’s estate, does specify damages sought.

Stewart previously served time in prison for convictions that include burglary and eluding law enforcement.