Inmate’s death investigated

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 2, 2007

WINDSOR – A death in the early morning hours of last Wednesday in the Bertie-Martin Regional Jail is under investigation.

The cause of death of Demittarus Burden, 28, of Aulander is initially believed to be suicide, but there is an investigation being conducted.

“Preliminarily Mr. Burden’s death appears to be suicide,” Bertie County Sheriff Greg Atkins said. “We don’t have any reason to believe it is anything else.

“As is the case with any death in custody, there will be a thorough investigation,” he added. “This one is on-going.”

The sheriff said he asked the State Bureau of Investigation to assist in the inquiry because the jail is a county agency and he wanted to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

According to Craig Friedman, administrator of the Bertie-Martin Regional Jail, officers in the booking area were alerted to the possible death around 12:15 a.m. on Wednesday.

He said officers found Burden unconscious and immediately began administering CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation). Burden was transported to Bertie Memorial Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Friedman said there was a Martin County Sheriff’s Deputy on site when Burden was found, along with his officers. Bertie County Sheriff’s deputies and the State Bureau of Investigation arrived shortly after.

“This is very unfortunate,” Friedman said. “It’s a very tragic thing.”

According to the administrator, Burden was awaiting transport to the North Carolina Department of Corrections where he had been sentenced to serve 60 days for resisting a public officer. He received that sentence in Bertie County District Court on March 14.

Friedman also said this was the first such incident in his five-year term as administrator, but that he believed a similar incident occurred approximately 10 years ago.