Man charged after sister awakens from coma dies in custody

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia man charged with trying to kill his sister, who recently awakened from a two-year coma and identified him as her attacker, has died, authorities said Friday.

Daniel J. Palmer III Cottageville was pronounced dead Thursday at a Charleston hospital, a day after he was taken there following an evaluation by jail medical staff, the state Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Division of Corrections, said in a news release.

The statement didn’t indicate a cause of death and a spokeswoman for Department of Health and Human Resources, which oversees the state medical examiner’s office, said state law only allows the agency to release autopsy information to relatives and law enforcement.

Palmer, 55, was uncooperative while in custody and during booking procedures at the South Central Regional Jail, where he was taken July 15 after being charged with the attempted murder and malicious wounding of his sister, the statement said.

Palmer’s sister, Wanda Palmer, was in a coma in a nursing home for two years. She was found unconscious with serious head injuries at her home in Jackson County on June 10, 2020.

Daniel Palmer had been identified as a suspect, but up until the time she emerged from the coma, investigators did not have enough evidence to file charges, court documents said. On June 27, a deputy received a call from a protective services worker who said she had started to speak single words and seemed to respond when questioned.

In a July 12 interview with a deputy, Wanda Palmer said the person who injured her was her brother and she identified him as Daniel, according to a criminal complaint filed in Jackson County Magistrate Court.

When asked during the interview the reason behind the assault, “Wanda stated that he was mean,” according to the complaint.

Jackson County Sheriff Ross Mellinger was out of his office and unavailable for comment Friday.

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