Coroner: inmate died from ‘acute morphine intoxication’

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Batton

MOSES LAKE — The Grant County Coroner’s Office has issued a cause of death for 34-year-old Soap Lake resident Derek Batton, who died in August while he was lodged in the Grant County Jail.

Grant County Coroner Craig Morrison told the Columbia Basin Herald on Wednesday Batton’s cause of death has been officially labeled as “acute morphine intoxication.”

“And in parenthesis I put ‘likely heroin.’” Morrison explained. In postmortem testing there isn’t a way to distinguish morphine from heroin, he said. “Based on our scene investigation it’s more likely than not to be heroin. The manner of death is going to be accidental.”

It is not known if Batton took the drug while he was at the jail or before he was booked, as he was booked into the jail on Friday Aug. 10 and was found in his bunk on Sunday Aug. 12.

“We don’t know the time interval and so we don’t know where this took place. Did he sneak it in the jail and take it then? We don’t know.”

When Batton was found on Aug. 12 corrections deputies performed CPR and other life-saving techniques, but he was pronounced dead by paramedics. The Grant County Sheriff’s Office stated out of the gate that foul play was not suspected in Batton’s death.

Batton was booked Aug. 10 on outstanding Kittitas County District Court warrants for DUI and second-degree driving with a suspended license, an outstanding Kittitas County District Court warrant for operating a vehicle without an ignition interlock system and outstanding Lincoln County Court warrants for operating a vehicle without an ignition interlock system and third-degree driving with a suspended license.

Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones was out of the office on Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.

Richard Byrd can be reached via rbyrd@columbiabasinherald.com.

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