BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Two public defenders on Tuesday, December 3, 2022, reported in Raleigh County Circuit Court that their client, an inmate at Southern Regional Jail, stopped taking his time release capsule medication because the medication was repeatedly crushed when provided to him.

The inmate is reportedly diagnosed by a psychiatrist with a mental health condition that leads to fits of rage.

There have been 18 deaths reported at Southern Regional Jail over the past two years. A class action lawsuit filed by several Beckley Attorneys against the jail alleges it does not provide inmates adequate medical care, including mental health services and the jail fails to protect inmates from violent attacks.

“This court has ordered the Southern Regional Jail not to crush his medication, to give it to him as prescribed, and they have repeatedly refused to do that, which has had some significant effects on Mr. Ratliff,” Beckley defense attorney Stanley Selden charged.

Selden and co-counsel, G. Todd Houck of Wyoming County, made the allegations during a sentencing hearing for Marshall Ratliff, who murdered Joshua Webb in 2018. A psychiatrist who evaluated Ratliff ruled he was competent to stand trial for the violent crime, but, according to his attorneys, said it was important for Ratliff to remain medicated before entering the West Virginia Department of Corrections. They said he had recently been unmedicated because of alleged practices at Southern Regional.

“This community and this court is aware of what’s going on at Southern Regional Jail,” Houck stated. “And for a normal person to make it at Southern Regional Jail, it’s pretty hard. There’s been several deaths out there. There’s been several injuries.”

Raleigh County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Dimlich said he has no authority under state law to order Ratliff to a mental health hospital, despite the requests of Ratliff’s attorneys. But Dimlich ruled Ratliff could leave Southern Regional, based on the allegations of improper medication, and await prison at Northern Regional Jail.

Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Hatfield did not oppose the defense’s request.

Dimlich also ordered Ratliff, who had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in July 2022, to serve 40 years for Webb’s murder.