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Sedgwick County Jail

A local detention deputy last week caught an inmate accused of first-degree murder breaking a cell window on an exterior wall of the Sedgwick County Jail. Officials say while the inmate hadn’t broken completely through several layers of glass — exposing him to the outside of the building — the hole he had chipped away would have been large enough to pass “dangerous contraband” items through had he finished the job.

The inmate, whom the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office did not name but said was jailed on suspicion of murder earlier this year, will likely face additional felony criminal charges in connection with the damage, Capt. Cody Alexander said in a news release.

The Sheriff’s Office said a deputy noticed the inmate “in the process of breaking a hole in his outer cell window” as the deputy was making routine in-person rounds in the jail early Friday morning, around 2:05 a.m.

“The deputy immediately removed the inmate from the cell and secured the area,” Alexander said in the release.

The “deputy noticed paper covering a portion of the window” during the cell checks and “instructed the inmate to remove the items so he could examine the window,” the release said.

With the window exposed, the deputy could see a roughly 6-inch wide hole in the glass.

“The inmate had already managed to break through the first several layers of glass, but was stopped before gaining access to the outside of the building,” Alexander said in the release.

“A hole of this size, with access to the outside of the building would have provided an access point to introduce dangerous contraband into the secure portion of the facility,” the release continued.

“Due to the attention to detail and quick action of the Detention Deputy involved, the inmate was unable to gain access to the outside of (the) building.”

The inmate allegedly responsible for the hole in the window was jailed about three months ago and is being held on suspicion of one count of first-degree murder, the Sheriff’s Office said. A new case involving the damaged glass will be presented to the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office “for charging at a later date,” the news release said.

It wasn’t immediately clear exactly what the inmate’s plan for the hole was. But the jail has long battled the introduction of banned items, which range from everyday possessions like cellphones and cigarettes to illicit drugs and weapons, into the Sedgwick County Jail. In recent months, the jail has reported contraband flowing into its building in number of ways including employees and the mail, prompting changes like having an off-site facility handle all inmate letters and packages.

Just last month, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office arrested one of its own detention deputies and a contract kitchen worker for allegedly smuggling drugs — and also a cellphone and charger, tobacco and a lighter, in the deputy’s case — into the jail, The Eagle previously reported.

Late last year, authorities saw a number of inmates fall ill after smoking paper laced with K-2, a synthetic type of marijuana, that had been sent through the postal mail to the jail. Someone posing as Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt also used the mail to send a package containing about five grams of synthetic pot and more than 30 rolling papers to a Sedgwick County Jail inmate in early March. But that attempt was foiled when the authorities confirmed with the AG’s office that it wasn’t official legal mail, the Sheriff’s Office previously announced.

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Amy Renee Leiker has been reporting for The Wichita Eagle since 2010. She covers crime, courts and breaking news and updates the newspaper’s online databases. She’s a mom of three and loves to read in her non-work time. Reach her at 316-268-6644 or at [email protected]

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