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Inmate jumps to his death at county jail

A Hartland man with a history of alcohol problems and mental health issues committed suicide Monday morning in the Niagara County Jail, according to several law enforcement sources.

Harold G. Case, 50, of Carmen Road, who was recently sentenced to 15 years in state prison for attempted rape, was identified as the victim.

Sheriff James R. Voutour would not immediately confirm the victim's name but did say the inmate killed himself by jumping from a second-floor walkway just after 6 a.m. as he was being transfered to state prison. He also said a suicide note was found.

"In the pods [that house inmates] there is an upper level and a lower level, it's two stories," Voutour said. "The upper level has a walkway in front of it with a railing. When he came out of his cell to head to his van to go to state prison, he climbed up on that railing and jumped."

Case jumped headfirst and died at the scene from head injuries, law enforcement sources said.

Voutour said this was the first suicide at the jail since early 2009. He noted that all inmates are screened before they come into the jail and that Case was deemed a low risk for suicide.

Case was sentenced to the prison term Jan. 5 in Niagara County Court, plus 15 years post-release supervision, for sexually assaulting a woman March 25, 2011 in her Lockport home.

The sentence on a reduced charge of attempted rape was the stiffest sentence that could have been imposed by Judge Matthew J. Murphy III, who called the attack "a violent, brutal, premeditated sexual assault."

The victim, who knew Case, was threatened with a knife, which left a mark on her throat, Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth R. Donatello told the court.

On another occasion, the victim said, Case made a gesture as if he was going to shoot her, then tried to persuade her not to press charges.

Voutour said an investigation will be conducted to make sure deputies followed all procedures.