David Justice, the former Montgomery mattress store owner known as "Mr. Sandman," has died of COVID-19 complications while awaiting trial on child sex crimes in the Blount County jail.
Justice, 68, was jailed in August 2020 first in Montgomery County then in Blount County on charges involving one child who was younger than 12. He was facing 22 counts.
Justice was the owner of Mr. Sandman Mattress Outlet in Montgomery.
According to Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey's office, Justice died Monday. A motion to dismiss the cases in Blount County was filed Wednesday.
Efforts to reach Blount County Sheriff Mark Moon were not immediately successful, but in the middle of August he held a news conference to discuss COVID-19 in the jail.
"I unfortunately don't have any good news," he started the conference.
Moon said his staff had reached the end of their resources in the battle against COVID-19. From March 2020 through July, only one inmate had tested positive, Moon said.
"Our preventative resources were exhausted in July, and that's contributed to the issues we're seeing this month," Moon said.
An inmate was booked into the Blount County Jail in early August, tested positive for COVID-19 and "started a chain of events," Moon said.
The Sheriff called in the Blount County Health Department to rapid test their imamates and correctional officers on August 12. Two officers and 22 inmates tested positive.
"Delta block was immediately quarantined and we began providing medical care the best we can," Moon said.
By the news conference on Aug. 20, two inmates had died due to COVID, Moon said. One had been hospitalized, but another gave no signs of needing hospitalization.
"On that morning, he walked to the nurses unit, got his medicine and talked with the nurse about his health," Moon said. "She said she'd go check on another inmate and she'd be back to check on him again."
The inmate was subsequently found unresponsive, Moon said. Jail staff performed life saving measures, but ultimately were unsuccessful.
It's unclear if Justice died while at the jail or if he'd been hospitalized prior to his death.Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Kirsten Fiscus at 334-318-1798 or KFiscus@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @KDFiscus