Family says Sutter County Jail inmate who killed himself was confused
Family members said on Friday that Nelson Ned Figueira-Silva was confused and upset over the potential jail time he was facing.
Figueira-Silva, 38, who was found hanging in his Sutter County Jail cell on Wednesday, died Thursday at Rideout Memorial Hospital in Marysville, the Sutter County Coroner's Office reported.
"He had troubles, but he was a good person, a very good person and he had a big heart," said Roxann Figueira, a sister-in-law and family spokeswoman. "He was really misunderstood."
A formal cause of death is not expected until after an autopsy is conducted on Monday, according to Brenda Baker, a Sheriff's Department spokeswoman.
Figueira-Silva was found in his cell around 5:30 p.m., about 30 minutes after the evening meal check, the Sheriff's Department said.
He was arrested Monday and arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Sutter County Superior Court. Figueira-Silva pleaded not guilty to charges of obstructing a peace officer and drug possession, according to jail booking records.
He was scheduled for a preliminary hearing on March 15, according to the Sutter County District Attorney's Office.
Roxann Figueira said her brother-in-law was told he was facing up to three years in custody, if convicted, but was confused and believed he had already been sentenced to serve jail time.
"They (jail staff) did try to explain to him that that was only the (maximum) time he could get," Roxann Figueira said, "but, he was still confused and I think that should've been a sign that he needed more help."
Roxann Figueira said her brother-in-law suffered from mental-health issues, but declined to elaborate. She said a health department official had evaluated Figueira-Silva after his arrest and determined he was not a danger to himself.
"I think that (evaluation) wasn't good enough," Roxann Figueira said. "I think they should've monitored him more."
The oldest of four brothers, Figueira-Silva lived much of his life in Yuba City. Family members said he enjoyed helping people and loved to fix and ride bicycles.
Figueira-Silva was arrested in Yuba County on Jan. 18 on misdemeanor drug charges. He was scheduled to make his next appearance in that case March 18 in Yuba County Superior Court.
Since 2010, three Sutter County inmates have died in custody.
Sheriff's Department officials have said each case was a different circumstance and should not be considered a pattern.
Two federal lawsuits are pending in Sacramento regarding jail-related deaths.
No funeral arrangements have been made and family members said they were considering their legal options.
"I know he got into trouble, but I don't want people to think he was not a good person," Roxann Figueira said. "I hope people don't jump to conclusions, because he was a very good person, even though he got into trouble."
CONTACT Rob Parsons at email@example.com or 749-4785. Find him on Facebook at /ADcrimebeat or on Twitter at @ADcrimebeat.