CATEGORY: Calhoun County

AUTHOR: GIBSON

ABERDEEN - A federal jury awarded a Calhoun County convict $50,000 from a former sheriff and three sheriff's department employees on civil rights violations last week.

Arvin D. Rochell filed the civil rights violation suit in U.S. District Court in Aberdeen against former Calhoun County Sheriff Billy Hitt, two former deputies and the department secretary for failing to protect him from being assaulted by other inmates in the county jail and denying him medical treatment after he was assaulted while he was incarcerated in the Calhoun County Jail between June and November 1992, said Tommie Cardin, a Jackson attorney, who represented Hitt and the sheriff's department employees for the county's insurer.

Rochell, 28, of Big Creek, is currently serving a life sentence for arson and murder for setting a fire in May 1992 that killed two of his aunts, Cardin said. Rochell represented himself in the proceedings.

Hitt and the other sheriff's department employees deny Rochell's charges, Cardin said. Cardin plans to file post-trial motions and appeal the federal jury's decision if necessary.

If the jury's decision is upheld, Cardin said he feels certain the county's insurer will pay the $50,000.

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