Franklin County Attorney Rick Sparks has denied a State Journal open records request for video documenting the death of former Franklin County Regional Jail inmate Paul Baughman.
Baughman passed away at the age of 69 on Aug. 25, and FCRJ spokesperson Ron Wyatt said he is believed by jail officials to have died of natural causes.
“I think there was speculation that it was a heart attack based on his underlying medical issues,” Wyatt said. “I’ve heard that based on his age and underlying medical conditions, there’s no suspicion of foul play. He was housed by himself, so it’s hard to see how anybody did anything to him.”
Sparks wrote in an email that a new provision added in a recent state legislative session which authorizes nondisclosure of “photographs or videos that depict the death, killing, rape, or sexual assault of a person,” allows the county to keep the video from The State Journal.
“My understanding is that this video you requested portrays the scene of and the death of Mr. Baughman,” Sparks wrote. “As such, these records are exempt per KRS 61.878(1)(q), as amended.”
Exceptions to the law are available to any family members, legal parties or insurance companies involved — but not for the press.
Franklin County Coroner Will Harrod said last week that Baughman's final autopsy results were "several weeks" away.
"We are still under investigation, so we do not have an update on the autopsy at this point," Harrod wrote. "I suspect it’ll be several more weeks for the results. As soon as we have the completed autopsy this should conclude our part of the investigation."
Baughman was being held in a “protective custody” cell at the front of the jail, where inmates are placed away from others for a variety of reasons, according to Wyatt.
Harrod's office confirmed that he was pronounced dead at 1:50 a.m. on the morning of Aug. 25.
Baughman was not a well-known entity at the jail, Wyatt said in an earlier interview, but he was booked there several times in the months leading up to his death.
His last booking took place on June 1 after being arrested by Frankfort Police and charged with third-degree assault, a Class D felony; resisting arrest, a Class A misdemeanor; and third-degree criminal trespassing, a violation.
Baughman's obituary states that his funeral will be held privately at East Frankfort Baptist Church. It adds that Baughman had an aunt in Midway.