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Toxicology tests being conducted in county jail inmate’s death

Sheriff’s detectives investigating the death of an accused child killer in the Pima County Jail last week are awaiting toxicology tests to see what type of drug the inmate may have taken.

Alejandro Antonio Alvarez, 22, was found by a jail corrections officer the night of April 19, acting lethargic in his cell, sheriff’s spokeswoman Deputy Dawn Barkman said.

Alvarez was taken to a hospital where he died about 5 a.m. April 20.

Detective Lt. Michael G. O’Connor said it appears Alvarez intended to commit suicide.

As Alvarez was being taken to the jail’s medical unit, he told a jail staffer that he “wanted to hurt himself” and had taken a large quantity of aspirin, O’Connor said.

Detectives do not know what Alvarez took, but suspect it was a prescription drug, not aspirin. O’Connor did not know what medicine had been prescribed for Alvarez.

Toxicology tests are being done as part of an autopsy, with analysis typically taking six to eight weeks.

No drugs were found in a search of Alvarez’s cell, O’Connor said.

Staffers are supposed to check an inmate’s mouth after dispensing medication to make sure it has been swallowed, not “cheeked.”

O’Connor said investigators are trying to determine how Alvarez managed to stockpile a lethal dose of a drug.

Alvarez was in jail on charges of first-degree murder and child abuse in the Jan. 19, 2008, death of his girlfriend’s 5-month-old son, Jayher Holguin. The defendant was expected to sign a plea agreement in Superior Court the day he died, Barkman said.

No jail staffers have been suspended or disciplined, Barkman said, adding if any action were to be taken, it would be after the toxicology test results become available.

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