Grand Jury indicts former Scioto County Jail Corrections Officer Billy Thompson in Kevin Bailey death.
“Hallelujah!” That was all an emotional Karen Skaggs could muster the strength to comment upon learning there has finally been an indictment in the death of her brother Kevin Bailey. It’s been nearly a year since the 56-year-old homeless Portsmouth man was severely injured in an incident at the Scioto County Jail and died a few days later at a Columbus hospital.
Scioto County Prosecutor, Shane Tieman, told SCDN today “The Attorney General’s Office was appointed as Special Prosecutor at my request to handle this matter. They will be responsible for all stages of the case.”
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said, “Thompson was indicted by a Scioto County grand jury on Friday, April 16, on charges of murder, an unclassified felony; voluntary manslaughter, a felony of the first degree; and reckless homicide, a felony of the third degree. If convicted, Thompson could get 15 years to life in prison.”
Our Betty Smith will cover the Thompson arraignment hearing.
Ignored By Other Media
At a time when police brutality makes headlines all over the United States and the world, you’d think Ohio media would have extensively reported the homicide of an inmate. With the exception of SCDN, When we spoke to his sister, Karen Skaggs, back in November, she couldn’t figure it out. Karen Skaggs can’t figure it out.
“I can’t understand why the news hasn’t put this on the air or anything. It’s like he didn’t matter. I called Channel 3 and all of them and told them the story and they didn’t want any part of it.”
There was some coverage of a protest at the jail back in the summer, but since then there has been little or no media interest outside of this site. Skaggs doesn’t get it, “I thought will all the police violence, this would be a like a big story for them. But it just didn’t go anywhere. It makes me sad for my brother. It’s like his life didn’t matter. And that makes me sad. His life still mattered.”
Skaggs said she couldn’t even find a local probate attorney to help her with establishing an estate for her brother. That would be the first step towards suing the county for wrongful death. She said no local lawyers are willing to get involved.
Kevin Bailey Timeline
- May 24 – Kevin Bailey is arrested.
- May 26 – Bailey is assaulted at the jail sustaining skull fractures, broken ribs, and other serious injuries
- June 1 – Kevin Bailey is removed from life support and dies at a Columbus Hospital
- Early June – State of Ohio takes over the death investigation.
- Mid-June – Sheriff Marty Donnini fires a deputy in connection with the incident
- July 14 – Karen Skaggs receives a bill from the City of Portsmouth for her brother’s ashes.
- October 2 – Coroner’s report rules Bailey’s death a homicide by blunt force trauma. The reports detail multiple skull fractures, broken ribs, and bruises to Bailey’s lungs.
- December 2 =Scioto County Prosecutor Shane Tieman handed off the job of prosecuting any charges in the homicide of Kevin Bailey to the state of Ohio. In a statement, Tieman said, “The Ohio Attorney General’s Office accepted the request from the Scioto County Prosecutor’s Office to review and prosecute any charges arising out of the homicide investigation of the death of Kevin Bailey at the Scioto County Jail.”
At the time, Scioto County Prosecutor Shane Tieman urged patience, saying that it can take a long time to properly prepare a case to present to the grand jury.
Lifelong Struggle With Addiction
It’s been a rough year for Karen Skaggs. In addition to losing her brother, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She told SCDN the chemo treatments have been rough. But she’s determined to beat cancer and continue the fight for justice for her late brother.
Kevin Bailey’s life was a difficult one. The 56-year-old homeless man struggled with addiction for most of his life. His sister said it began when he was just 16 and became involved in an inappropriate relationship with a woman in her 40s. The woman allowed him to drink and do drugs in her home. When their father found out, he put a stop to the relationship. “When she told him not to come back, he tried to commit suicide with whiskey and pills. He just went downhill and never stopped.”
She said that despite his difficulties her brother maintained a kind heart. “Even though he needed help, he would stop and help somebody if they needed it.” The last time she spoke to Kevin, his sister begged him to get clean. “I told him that it was just me and him now and I needed a brother in my life but I couldn’t have one while he was on drugs. He said ‘I promise you I’ll try to get clean.’ I later found out he was going to a rehab place and trying to get clean and get off the drugs.”
Fight For Justice
Skaggs said the holidays were an especially difficult time. “I have a lot of good memories of him before the drugs came into play. He was a very protective brother. We had a lot of good Thanksgiving and Christmases together.”
Despite the obstacles, Karen kept up her fight. This sister said that no matter what, she wouldn’t give up on finding the truth. “I feel like he’s being pushed under the rug but I’m not going to let it go away. I promised him on his deathbed that I would fight for him. No matter how long it takes or what it takes, somebody will have to answer for what was done to him.”
Now, at last, she’s found some measure of justice for Kevin.