By Tonia Copeland
Western Nebraska Observer 

No criminal conduct found in Kimball County death

Estrada-Perez found Aug. 1 hanging in jail cell, died days later


A Kimball County grand jury which convened Nov. 9 found no criminal conduct in the death of a Minnesota man who was found hanging in his jail cell earlier this year.

Jesus Estrada-Perez was found hanging in his cell in the Kimball County jail on Aug. 1 and died days later.

On July 31, Estrada-Perez became the subject of a search of southern Kimball County when his traveling companion, Eve Connelley, reported to law enforcement that he exited their rental vehicle and had not returned after more than an hour and a half. Connelley further informed law enforcement that Estrada-Perez suffered from depression and anxiety and may have been suicidal.

When found more than three hours later, Estrada-Perez had ingested a large amount of marijuana and was arrested on charges of possession of hash oil. After being medically cleared by Kimball Health Services, he was jailed on those possession charges.

Sgt. Monty Lovelace of the Nebraska State Patrol conducted the initial investigation into the incident, which did not result in immediate death.

Additionally, Kimball County Attorney Dave Wilson, who could not be involved in the grand jury, requested that District Judge Derek Weimer appoint a special prosecutor. Weimer appointed Assistant Attorney General Doug Warner as the special prosecutor in the case.

In the past the special prosecutor would appoint three investigators. Laws have changed, allowing for the Nebraska State Patrol to investigate the entire incident and gather evidence for the grand jury to consider, according to Warner.

When anyone dies in police custody, whether in the field or in jail, Warner said a grand jury will be convened to determine if there is criminal responsibility.

Estrada-Perez, a student at the University of Minnesota, was “a passionate activist heavily involved in his community (Minneapolis) through various groups focused on diversity, equity and social justice. He genuinely cared about making a difference and dedicated his life to fulfill that goal,” according to a friend, Anna Alba-Nascimento.

However, in the week prior to his death, Estrada-Perez organized and participated in two militant actions on campus, according to Minneapolis-based publication “Fight Back.” This included an occupation of the university’s administration building for which he was arrested on charges of trespassing.


Reader Comments

guest01 writes:

So, our state legislators, charged with protecting our democracy, choose instead to eliminate a key check and balance. Now, one investigation instead of three. Then they pretend it's not a problem by having a grand jury look at the evidence, collected by one investigation. In this case, involving a young citizen who challenges inequities found in our system. I smell a slide into totalitarianism.


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