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Man injured in jail confirmed as mentally ill

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BEMIDJI — A man who sustained a broken jaw in the Beltrami County Jail in September will not be returning to serve the remainder of his sentence.

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Theran Stai, 46, of Bemidji was committed as mentally ill by Judge John G. Melbye on Nov. 22 in Beltrami District Court. Stai was a patient at the Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center before Friday’s hearing.

As a committed mentally ill person, Stai is not competent to stand trial and his criminal file will be suspended, according to court officials. Stai’s charges include: fleeing a peace officer, DWI, escape from custody, disorderly conduct, domestic abuse, assault, theft and most recently possession of methamphetamine.

Conflicting reports were given on how Stai broke his jaw while under the watch of Beltrami County Jail staff. According to a Beltrami County Jail incident report, Stai said he believed he may have broken his jaw by falling to the jail floor. He later recanted that remark and told medical staff he had been assaulted but did not want to report that information to the jail.

Stai was airlifted from Sanford Bemidji Medical Center to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, a level 1 trauma center, where he received reconstructive surgery on his jaw.

Video surveillance footage is not available for the area where Stai was when the injury occurred. Because of the severity of Stai’s injury, the sheriff’s office requested the Bemidji Police Department investigate the incident. Twelve inmates housed in D block were interviewed. Ten indicated they did not know how Stai became injured, one inmate declined to comment and another asked for an attorney.

Stai’s was initially examined by Dr. Charles Chmelewski. His second examiner was Dr. Tim Tinius. Chmelewski and Tinius, both licensed psychologists, agreed Stai is mentally ill. However, Chmelewski disagreed with Tinius’ opinion that Stai’s behavior could provoke a hostile response.

During his testimony, Stai confirmed he had been in an altercation in the Beltrami County Jail.

“I didn’t hurt the other guy who hurt me in jail,” Stai said. “They were asking me to sing.”

Stai said he does not know the name of the man who hit him, but that he could identify him by face.

Stai’s court appointed attorney requested a continuance at his first commitment hearing in order to obtain a second examiner’s opinion. Stai was discharged from Community Behavioral Health Hospital in Bemidji at that time and transferred to the Anoka facility.

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Crystal Dey
Crystal Dey covers crime, courts and Beltrami county government for The Bemidji Pioneer. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey has worked for the Echo Press in Alexandria, Minnesota, The Forum in Fargo, North Dakota, The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida, the Hartford Courant in Hartford and West Hartford News in West Hartford, Connecticut. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.
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