Robert Stone inquest underway

Just 25 hours and 40 minutes after being released from jail, Robert Stone was dead. A coroner's inquest into who he was and exactly how and when he died began on Monday.

Just 25 hours and 40 minutes after being released from jail, Robert Stone was dead.

A coroner’s inquest into who he was and exactly how and when he died began on Monday.

The 34-year-old First Nation man was well known to RCMP, Emergency Medical Services and Whitehorse Correctional Centre staff.

But Stone wasn’t a high-maintenance inmate, testified Darryl Sheepway, who released Stone from the correctional facility on May 1, 2010.

“He spent a lot of time sleeping or resting, and didn’t spend a lot of time interacting with staff or the other inmates,” he said.

The most attention Stone received was medical.

He suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome and seizures and was prescribed Dilantin by the jail’s physician and nursing staff. Throughout his last six-week stay at the jail, his blood was tested weekly. It showed abnormal results, and his prescription was decreased.

Dilantin is a well-known anti-epileptic drug. It slows down impulses in the brain.

Its real claim to fame was as in Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, where it was identified as a treatment for seizures and a mechanism to control inmate behaviour.

Among its side effects, Dilantin is known to cause behavioural changes, anxiety, hostility, severe depression and suicidal tendencies, especially during prescription adjustments.

Dilantin is also known to cause nystagmus, or horizontal gaze, which is harmless, but sometimes used as a marker for alcohol intoxication.

People with liver diseases, vitamin D deficiencies and diabetes require special attention if prescribed Dilantin.

When Stone was released from jail on May 1, at 9 a.m. he was given a six-day supply of the drug. At that time, his prescription was for two, 100-milligram pills in the morning and the same at night. He had been given his morning dose at 8:30 a.m.

“He was happy,” said Sheepway of Stone at his release. “He was looking forward to getting out of jail.”

But by that evening, Stone would be back in police custody.

A 911 call led paramedics to Stone, who was stumbling along Fourth Avenue near the Petro-Canada station, bleeding from the face and complaining about a sore shoulder.

On the way to the hospital, Stone became combative and hit one of the paramedics, which led to his arrest.

Const. Derek Turner told the inquest he never planned on charging Stone with assault, but wanted him to sober up, adding that his blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit.

Once in RCMP cells, Stone’s belongings were confiscated.

Turner, a 10-year veteran of the police force, testified he found a package of medication in Stone’s jacket pocket, but thought it may have been something to help combat alcoholism.

The medication was not included on the final copy of the list of belongings that went into the police file. Turner said he didn’t catch the mistake before signing the final copy of the paperwork.

At no point did Stone say he needed medication, Turner told the inquest, nor did he tell the paramedics earlier that he was taking anything.

At about 2:30 a.m. on May 2, an ambulance was called to the cells because Stone was not feeling well.

He was taken to hospital and eventually released into the detoxification centre. He was found dead later that morning at the Sarah Steele Building.

The territory’s chief coroner, Sharon Hanley, is overseeing the inquest.

There is a jury of four women and two men. Seven lawyers represent the coroner, the Stone family, Dr. Ian Seal, who released Stone from the Emergency Room, the RCMP and Yukon government subsidiaries, including the detox centre, the jail and Emergency Medical Services.

As many as 23 witnesses are expected to testify. Fourteen have been heard already and it is expected the rest will be heard Wednesday and Thursday.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

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