The brother of a Fort Worth man accused of killing an alleged child molester in a Tarrant County Jail cell says his mentally ill brother should not have been housed with another inmate.
Brandon Flores said his brother, David Faustino Flores, 43, suffers from schizophrenia and has hallucinations but had never been violent until October, when he was accused of hitting an elderly employee at a store.
Brandon Flores said he doesn’t believe his brother attacked Clinton Don Simpson, 76, because Simpson was an accused pedophile or because Simpson was elderly. He said he believes his brother’s mental condition made him vulnerable in jail and that he probably felt alone, only escalating his schizophrenia.
“The mental health system fails the people daily on normal things. I never expected them to fail my brother this much,” Brandon Flores said.
Brandon Flores said his brother belonged in the John Peter Smith psychiatric ward, not in a Tarrant County Jail cell with another inmate whom he is now accused of fatally beating.
Both Flores and Simpson were on suicide watch when the attack occurred.
“It just doesn’t make any sense,” Brandon Flores said. “I think someone has to be responsible for putting this guy in with my brother. I don’t know who gave the OK for that. My brother isn’t a killer. I just feel like there was some groundwork laid out to end up with my brother being a killer.
“I think it’s like putting a snake in with a spider, and you just want to see what happens,” Brandon Flores said. “I believe there’s some cruelty behind what happened to my brother.”
Simpson was pronounced dead at John Peter Smith Hospital early Wednesday, shortly after the attack.
David McClelland, chief of staff for Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn, said in a telephone interview Monday that it wasn’t unusual for more than one inmate on suicide watch to be in a shared jail cell. He noted the cells on the jail’s medical wing, where the inmates were being housed, can hold up to four inmates on suicide watch.
My Health My Resources, an agency that provides mental health services, “recommended to us placing inmates together because it was more beneficial. It’s better for them than solitary confinement,” McClelland said.
Some members of the jail staff who were at work that night are on suspension pending an internal investigation, he said. He did not have the exact number of jail staff who were suspended.
A history of mental illness
Brandon Flores said his brother had a normal childhood but began to show signs of mental illness soon after graduating from Paschal High School.
“It was gradual. It was things I could easily dismiss at first,” he said. ”But you’d see it escalate through the years. ... He’s on medication. It’s been just a troubleshoot as far as what is good for his condition. They’ve given him injections, given him pills.”
David Flores had told his older brother that God talked to him.
David Flores’ criminal record was relatively minor until now — two years deferred adjudication probation for criminal trespassing in 2000, a six-day jail sentence for misdemeanor evading arrest in 2006, and a fine for theft under $50 in 2007.
Brandon Flores said his brother coped well at times and continued to live alone even after their mother’s recent death. But sometimes, David Flores would disappear for short periods, “go on his transient runs and he’ll just walk around the neighborhood.”
Brandon Flores said most people just ignored his brother, like they do others who are mentally ill.
“Schizophrenics are easily dismissible. People don’t really care,” Brandon Flores said. “You walk in the street, you can see how people just disregard these people. They’re almost like lepers. They may look different. They may not follow the rules, but they’re still humans.”
Until the assault accusation in October, Brandon Flores said, his brother had never been violent to others. He’d only hurt himself, Brandon Flores said, and was once hospitalized for weeks after bashing his head into the concrete.
“He said he was trying to kill himself. He wants it to stop,” Brandon Flores said.
Flores and Simpson appeared to be sleeping when they were last checked by jail staff at 2:15 a.m. on Wednesday, sheriff’s officials have said.
McClelland, the sheriff’s chief of staff, said a jailer saw the start of the assault on Simpson at 2:22 a.m. He noted the jailer and nurses sit in an area about 15 feet from the jail cells.
Flores was restrained by jailers at 2:23 a.m., he said, meaning the attack lasted about a minute.
“A lot can happen in a minute,” McClelland said.
An arrest warrant affidavit says in that minute’s time, Flores punched Simpson’s head about 60 times, kicked him in the head about six times, and hit his head on the concrete floor about 14 times.
Simpson was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The Texas Rangers are investigating.
Simpson was accused in 2007 of molesting more than a dozen children at “Mr. Don’s Whistle Stop,” a miniature train station and track that Simpson owned and operated in his back yard in Keller.
For years, he’d been in state hospitals after being found incompetent to stand trial. He was returned to the Tarrant County Jail in July after being deemed competent.
A relative of Simpson’s who asked not to be identified said Thursday that the family had many questions and grave concerns about Simpson’s death. That same relative did not respond Monday to an email from the Star-Telegram seeking further comment.
Brandon Flores said he’s looking for a defense attorney who specializes in mental illness and will help defend his brother.
“ I just want my brother to get a fair shake,” Brandon Flores said.