May 22--YAKIMA, Wash. -- A former Yakima County sheriff's deputy facing a lengthy prison sentence for rape and assault has died in jail from an apparent suicide.
Sean Moore, 37, was found hanging in his cell late Saturday night, and authorities are investigating his death as a probable suicide, sheriff's Chief of Detectives Stew Graham said today.
"It appears to be a suicide at this time," he said, noting that Moore had been kept away from the jail's general population and was alone in his cell.
"It's a tragic end to a tragic story," county Sheriff Ken Irwin said his afternoon.
"My heart goes out to his family and friends, and also to jailers who were trying to keep him safe. It just wasn't enough."
County Coroner Jack Hawkins said an autopsy is scheduled for Monday.
Moore was awaiting sentencing June 6 after pleading guilty in March to first- and second-degree assault as well as third-degree rape and burglary. He was looking at more than 10 years in prison.
The charges stemmed from an October incident when Moore, who was on duty and in uniform, attacked a woman he knew in her Selah home and her male friend.
The allegations riled the local law enforcement community and caused tension between some of Moore's colleagues and the Selah police department, which investigated the case. There were also complaints that Moore received special visitation privileges at the county jail shortly after his arrest. An out-of-town judge had to handle the trial proceedings after all eight judges on the Yakima County Superior Court bench recused themselves.
Moore had been in custody ever since his arrest but spent at least some of his time awaiting trial at the Kittitas County jail. He resigned from the Sheriff's Office the day before his plea.
Jail Director Ed Campbell released a statement late this morning confirming Moore had died.
The statement said jail personnel found Moore "unresponsive" in his cell at about 9:30 p.m. and started immediately performing CPR until medical staff arrived.
Campbell said Moore was then taken by ambulance to Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.
According to Campbell, Moore had been housed in a medical unit on the third floor of the main jail "due to an ongoing medical condition," and was also in protective custody "related to his affiliation with law enforcement and charges."
Campbell said the unit where Moore was kept requires cell checks every 30 minutes and that corrections staff had last conducted a routine check on Moore at about 9:05 p.m.
Graham said it was his understanding that Moore hanged himself. However, he said it was too early in the investigation to say how.
"Until I've seen reports (and) photographs, and the autopsy gets all done, I don't want to be guessing at the mechanics of it," he said.