More than a year after the Weekly reported that Orange County Jail inmate Keith Files likely died of a methadone overdose behind bars, the Orange County District Attorney has confirmed the story. In an investigative report letter posted on the DA's website yesterday, the agency said that Files, a heroin addict who had been arrested for leaving his treatment center, had died of a lethal amount of ingested methadone on Nov. 30, 2010. Files was one several inmates who died behind bars that was the subject of an investigation by this paper titled "Who'll Stop the Pain?"
In the letter, the DA's office indicated it had interviewed jail staff, family members and friends of Files, and had determined that Files had smuggled a lethal amount of methadone into the jail, a claim that was first reported by the Weekly in Feb. 2011. Investigators who spoke with jail staff and other witnesses at the facility say Files did not appear to be under the influence of any drugs when he was booked at the jail, and that he appeared to be "jovial" several hours before being found lifeless in his cell. The DA concluded that it could find no evidence of any wrongdoing by jail staff.
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Brooke Files, Keith's sister, who also spoke with DA investigators, said today that she was unaware that the report was on the DA's website. She expressed hope that Keith's death might somehow lead jail officials to watch inmates more closely. "I'm surprised it took so long," she said, after learning of the DA's findings. "There's nothing else I can say. I loved my brother very much."