Heart Transplant Recipient Dies in Fla. Jail After Going Days Without Medication

In October 2020, Dexter Barry got a new heart. Two years later, he died in jail after his family says he wasn't given his daily medication

Dexter Barry
Dexter Barry.Photo:


A heart transplant recipient died last fall after going days without “life saving” medication while in custody at a Florida jail — and now his family’s lawyer alleges jail officials withheld the medication due to its high price tag, according to a recent news report.

In October 2020, Dexter Barry got a new heart, changing his life for the better. Since then, he was taking daily medications to prevent rejection of his new heart, according to a GoFundMe page created by his daughter, Janelle King.

However, the events that followed his Nov. 18, 2022, arrest on a misdemeanor simple assault charge, shocked his loved ones.

According to The Tributary, which first reported the incident, a neighbor of Barry’s called 911 and told police the 54-year-old had allegedly threatened to “beat him up” over a disagreement about Wi-Fi access. Despite a physical fight never having taken place, Barry was arrested for allegedly making the verbal threat.

During his time in custody at the Duval County Jail in Jacksonville, Barry stressed the importance of taking his daily medications to jail officials and a judge during his initial court appearance, the news outlet reports, citing body camera footage and court transcripts.

“I just had a heart transplant, and I haven’t taken my medicine all day since I have been locked up, and I take rejection medicines for my heart so my heart won’t reject it, and I’m almost two years out,” he said, per the documents cited by the outlet.

However, his family believes he was never given the medication, and died on Nov. 23, 2022.

“He was held in custody for three days where the police department denied him access to these life saving medications,” King wrote on the fundraiser. “He tragically died two days after his release.”

The GoFundMe states Barry’s death certificate cites cardiac issues as his cause of death. However, his family thinks there might be more to Barry’s death that hasn’t fully been revealed.

“We are planning a private autopsy with the hopes of gaining more insight into said 'heart failure,'" the fundraiser reads. “Our ultimate goal is to see any and all parties who are culpable held responsible for their actions. “

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

His family’s lawyer told The Tributary that they believe officials allowed Barry to miss his required doses because they didn’t want to pay for them. Barry states in the court transcript obtained by the outlet that a 30 day supply for his transplant medication usually costs $2,400.

“Records from jail will likely show they made a note of it,” the family’s attorney, Andrew Bonderud, told The Tributary.

“JSO recognized it’s an extremely expensive medication, and how disgusting if it turns out that this was a business decision for the JSO, that they would rather not pay for the medication. They would rather risk death over a business decision. It’s one of the most outrageous cases I’ve ever seen in this city of JSO misconduct.”

According to the outlet, a health expert said that law enforcement officials “had a constitutional responsibility to care for Barry.”

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is reportedly conducting an administrative review of Barry's death and has not publicly commented on the situation. PEOPLE was not immediately able to reach the JSO.

Related Articles