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Vicksburg woman dies after turning herself into jail

A Vicksburg woman who died one day after turning herself in to St. Tammany Parish, La., authorities to begin serving a one-year jail sentence was described as “feisty,” by Cherie William Harrison’s attorney, who said she seemed healthy when he last saw her in court.

“Every time she appeared in court, she did not appear distressed,” said Brian Meissner, who was appointed by the St. Tammany Public Defenders Office to defend Harrison. “I was as shocked as anyone when I got the call from District Court. She always showed up (for hearings) and she was a very nice person.”

Meissner said Thursday that Harrison occasionally talked about going to visit a relative in Vicksburg, but gave no name or address. He said she had been living in Slidell, La. He said he was unaware of any medical problems she may have had.

He said she had seemed healthy when he last saw her Sept. 26, for a court hearing on a motion to give her more time to get her affairs in order before reporting to serve her sentence.

According to a report from the Baton Rouge, La., Advocate, Harrison, 33, died Oct. 4, one day after she reported to the St. Tammany Parish Jail to begin serving a one-year sentence for failure to report a felony.

The St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office said the cause of death was acute myocardial infarction and diabetic ketoacidosis, a complication of diabetes. There was no evidence of trauma.

Toxicology results are pending, and the case remains under investigation, the Coroner’s Office said.

Sheriff Randy Smith said Harrison turned herself in to the jail on Oct. 3, and it was his understanding she did not have an insulin pump. She complained that night of being sick and was sent to the jail’s medical facility, where the staff made the decision to transport her to St. Tammany Parish Hospital’s emergency room.

“We were notified later she passed away,” Smith said in a text message.

Harrison had pleaded guilty in September in 22nd Judicial District Court to charges of obstruction of justice, failure to report certain felonies and being an accessory after the fact to aggravated crime against nature with a victim under 13 years of age.

The charges involved an arrest in 2016 by the Pearl River Police Department.

She was sentenced to five years each on the obstruction of justice charge and the accessory to aggravated crime against nature charge, but the sentences were suspended by Judge Rick Swarz, who sentenced her to one year in prison for the failure to report a felony.

The sentencing order ordered her to report to the St. Tammany jail on Oct. 4, and recommended she serve her sentence at the Louisiana Transitional Center for Women in Tallulah. She reported to jail a day early.

Harrison’s husband, Irvin Harrison, 30, pleaded guilty in June to one count of aggravated crime against nature with a victim under the age of 13. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.