Originally Published: August 6, 2004 7 a.m.
PRESCOTT – A medical examiner will have to determine the cause of death of a 25-year-old Phoenix woman who died over the weekend while in custody at the Yavapai County Jail in Prescott.
According to a Yavapai County Sheriff's Office report, at around 9:15 p.m. on Sunday, an inmate found Malia Jean Spencer deceased in her bed.
Based on the body signs, authorities concluded that she died some time before the inmate found her, but it is not clear exactly when, YCSO spokeswoman Susan Quayle said.
By that point, Spencer had been in custody for less than 24 hours, she said.
Prescott Police officers arrested Spencer on Saturday after they went to investigate a shoplifting incident at Fry's in the 950 block of Fair Street, PPD spokesman Scott Reed said.
The call came in at around 8:40 p.m. and by the time officers arrived on the scene, store security personnel had detained Spencer, Reed said.
Reed said that Spencer allegedly tried to leave the store without paying for beverages and vitamins she took from the store. He said that she allegedly went to the bathroom with a bottle of sports drink and a bottle of strawberry daiquiri.
Through the investigation, the officers determined that while in the bathroom Spencer allegedly poured out the sports drink and then poured the daiquiri into the sports drink bottle, Reed said.
Officers arrested Spencer after they confirmed that she had a warrant for probation violations out of Yavapai County, a PPD report states.
Once at YCSO, detention officers tested Spencer for alcohol intake and determined that her blood alcohol level was .334, the report states. (Currently, in the state of Arizona the legal limit is .08 and Spencer's blood alcohol level allegedly exceeded that limit by more than four times.)
YCSO detention officers told the arresting officer that he needed a medical clearance on Spencer before they could book her into the jail, the report states.
Quayle said it is the department's policy not to book a suspect in the jail until a doctor gives permission when they deal with highly intoxicated individuals.
The PPD officer then took Spencer to Yavapai Regional Medical Center where an emergency room doctor checked her and then released her shortly thereafter, the PPD report states.
At around 11 p.m., just about two hours after the first report of the shoplifting incident came in, Spencer was in custody at the jail, Quayle said.
She said another inmate found her dead at around 9:15 p.m. the following night. She said that Spencer accepted her dinner that evening, but she did not eat it.
Quayle said there is no indication of foul play at this time and that an autopsy was to take place on Monday to determine the cause of Spencer's death.
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