Robert Lattimore

RUTHERFORDTON — An inmate in the Rutherford County jail died Friday night.

Robert Miller Lattimore, 57, was found unresponsive in his cell around 7 p.m. Deputies then requested medical assistance. He was taken to the nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead, according to Sheriff Chris Francis.

“He had not been sick. He had high blood pressure, but there had been no issues within the last five months,” Francis said.

An autopsy was performed Monday at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Preliminary findings released Monday afternoon indicate Lattimore died from a heart attack due to coronary-artery disease, Francis said.

Lattimore was jailed Feb. 22, 2020 for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, shooting into an occupied dwelling and possession of a firearm by a felon.

This marks the second time within about a year that someone has died from natural causes while in the custody of the sheriff’s office.

Last year, a suspect died while in custody of a deputy, but not inside the jail. Jackie Israel Sanders, 33, of Spartanburg, South Carolina, died in the back of a deputy’s cruiser while being transported to jail after an arrest. Sanders was stopped for a traffic-related offense when he ran from the scene and into a briar-laden thicket. Deputies later talked Sanders into surrendering.

Upon arrival at the jail, the deputy transporting Sanders found the suspect unresponsive. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Francis said an autopsy revealed Sanders death was attributed to an enlarged heart.