Gerald Reneau


An inmate was found dead in his cell in the medical ward of the McLennan County Jail on Sunday evening, prompting an investigation, officials said.

Gerald Reneau, 54, of Bellmead, was pronounced dead about 10:40 p.m. by Justice of the Peace Dianne Hensley. Reneau’s body was sent to the Southwest Institute of Forensic Sciences for autopsy.

Jail Capt. Ricky Armstrong said Reneau was booked in about 2 a.m. Friday on an assault family violence charge and was held on a $5,000 bond.

Armstrong could not release any information about Reneau’s medical condition or cause of death except to say he appeared to die of medical causes. It was not clear why he was being held in the medical ward.

Armstrong said Reneau was alone in his cell when he died.

The incident is being investigated by the Texas Rangers, he added.

Reneau’s death marks the second in one week at the jail on State Highway 6 and its neighboring facility, the Jack Harwell Detention Center.

Michael Angelo Martinez, 25, of Waco, was found unresponsive in his cell about 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 1., McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said last week.

Martinez was pronounced dead by Justice of the Peace W.H. “Pete” Peterson, who ordered Martinez’s body sent for autopsy at American Forensics in Dallas.

Officials are investigating the death as a suicide, as the cause of death appeared to be asphyxia and Martinez was housed alone in his cell, McNamara said.

A preliminary autopsy report found that there was no evidence of other trauma or natural disease. The cause of death was listed as asphyxia by hanging and the manner of death was listed as suicide. The final report will be released when toxicology results return.

Martinez had been in jail since Aug. 18, records show. He was being held on unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of cocaine charges and also a federal detainer, according to county records.

Peterson said it appeared Martinez hanged himself in his cell with a piece of cloth. Peterson said jail officials told him they found Martinez hanging by the cloth and took his body down before the judge arrived.

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