A correctional officer, who had gotten attached with Ashley Smith over the time, shook her head with frustration while recording her testimony at the inquest into Smith’s death. Melissa Mueller highlighted that there are many aspects of the system which must be changed, while informing the jury that she and her colleagues are trying their best to do so at Kitchener’s Grand Valley Institute for Women, where Smith died in 2007.
Mueller mentioned in court that “our hands are very much tied when it comes to ladies like Ashley,” adding that there are numerous inmates at the facility who need a level of help which she doesn’t know how to provide. She stated that “we can’t go to work and be everything to everybody,” so “we’re just people and I don’t know how to fix those problems.” Even though Smith was a part of Mueller’s workload, she claims to have not been involved in the decision-making process concerning the 19-year-old. The coroner’s lawyer, Jocelyn Speyer, inquired Mueller if she thinks her input might have made a difference, to which she replied that “It might have.”
Mueller was totally moved while remembering the night of Smith’s death. She recalled the time when she, along with other correctional officers, entered Smith’s cell on Oct. 19, 2007. Smith had tightened a ligature around her neck, but she was breathing. When the authorities decided to cut off the ligature, Smith took a big breath, which Mueller assumed was an inhalation. She later realized that it was trapped air escaping from Smith’s dead body.
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