Man dies in jail before trial in death of baby found in freeze

A Georgia man was found dead Friday in an Alabama jail, just months before he was set to stand trial in the death of his 6-month-old son.

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Carlton James Mathis, 30, of Gainesville, was found unresponsive in his cell at the Houston County Jail in Dothan just before 10 p.m., Alabama State Bureau of Investigation spokesman Lt. Heath Carpenter said in a news release.

Corrections staff, deputies and paramedics tried to resuscitate Mathis, but were unsuccessful, authorities said. He was pronounced dead at the jail, and his body was taken to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for an autopsy.

Mathis has been in jail since his June 2018 arrest in connection with the death of the baby.

Both Mathis and the child's mother, Amanda Gail Oakes, were charged with abuse of a corpse after investigators found the body of Carlton James Oakes in a freezer at the Dothan InTown Suites, previously reported.

Authorities believe the couple left Georgia with the baby after officials tried to arrest Mathis on burglary and parole violation charges.

After checking into the hotel, Oakes briefly returned to Georgia, where she picked up her teen daughter, leaving the baby with Mathis.

During her trip, Mathis called Oakes and said the baby had died, according to investigators. The next day, Oakes and her daughter returned to the hotel, where she spent the night with the child’s corpse.

In court, it was revealed the baby died after ingesting methamphetamine.

Police said the couple went shopping at Walmart before heading to Florida, intentionally leaving the baby's body in the freezer of the hotel room.

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office contacted Dothan police about a possible child death and said Mathis could be in the Dothan area with the dead baby. A multistate manhunt ensued.

Authorities tracked the couple to an apartment in Bronson, Florida., previously reported. SWAT officers were called in June 4, 2018, and Mathis, who reportedly was armed, was shot four times after he allegedly tried to run.

Once in police custody, Mathis and Oakes provided investigators with information that led them back to the Dothan hotel, and the baby's body was discovered. Officials said the body had been there for five or six days.

In addition to abuse of a corpse, Oakes was charged with chemical endangerment of a child, distribution of drugs to a minor and manslaughter, jail records show. She was sentenced Wednesday to the maximum of 99 years in prison after pleading guilty to those charges, and agreed to testify against Mathis during his trial in November.

Mathis was charged with murder, assault, drug possession, weapon possession by a convicted felon and child neglect.

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