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Homemade Alcohol Might Have Killed DeKalb County Jail Inmate

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A 28-year old inmate died Monday after becoming sick in his cell at the DeKalb County Jail, and investigators believe it was because of something he drank.

DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott said Brandon Washington became very sick at 1:48 a.m. Monday, after drinking hooch—homemade alcohol—which is common among inmates in jails and prisons.

"They sort of ferment items that turn into liquor, which has high alcoholic content," he said.

Other inmates alerted guards to Washington's condition by banging on cell doors.

Scott said paramedics took Washington to Kishwaukee Community Hospital, where he died less than an hour later.

"We did some more searches in cells. We used K-9s last night to do searches for drugs, and go through the cell blocks," he said.


Washington's cellmate, 26-year-old Christopher Gerken, also became sick and was hospitalized after drinking the hooch. Scott said Gerken was released from the hospital back to a jail cell because he was being uncooperative, but Gerken might have to return to the hospital.

Washington was in the jail waiting to see a judge about an appeal of his 2010 conviction for attempted murder.

Gerken is awaiting trial on a murder charge.

It's suspected drugs also played a role in Washington's death and Gerken's illness.

"We're looking into that. We will have the best determination when we get their blood results back," Scott said.

An autopsy for Washington was scheduled for Tuesday.

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