Neil had been in custody two months following her arrest on Interstate 5 on Feb. 16, near Arbuckle, after she reportedly became belligerent during a traffic stop, pulled out a knife she had concealed on her body, and stabbed CHP Officer Philip Martinsen in the back.
Colusa County Sheriff’s Lt. Neil Cotter said Neil was discovered unresponsive in her cell around 4:45 AM on April 15, although the cause of death and manner of her possible suicide have not been released pending the results of an autopsy performed Monday by a coroner outside Colusa County.
“Everything is still under investigation,” Cotter said.
Cotter said Neil was not breathing when Jail staff found her and immediately initiated CPR. Paramedics, who arrived a short time later, transported Neil to Colusa Medical Center. She was flown to Enloe Medical Center, in Chico, where she was pronounced brain dead at 1:16 PM the following day.
Neil had not yet entered a plea on the attempted murder charge pending the results of psychiatric evaluation requested by Public Defender Albert Smith. She was due in court on that evaluation on April 17 to determine if she was competent to stand trial.
Neil was suspected of driving under the influence of drugs the night Officer Martinsen pulled her over around 10:30 PM for driving in excess of 100 mph in the northbound lane of I-5 with her hazard lights on. She was on her way to Oregon to visit her sister.
Tow truck driver Christian Melendrez, of Arbuckle, who works for Selover’s Towing in Williams, saw the struggle between Neil and the injured CHP officer and stopped to assist him in taking her into custody.
Officer Martinson, a three-year veteran of the CHP, has recovered from the stabbing and has returned to his patrol duties at the Williams CHP office.
This is the first in-custody suicide at the Colusa County Jail in about 25 years, officials said. ■