Taxpayers on hook for murder suspect’s major medical bills after suicide attempt

Around 1 p.m. Monday, Sheriff Joe Chapman buzzed into the Walton County Jail in central Georgia.

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He gave a casual tour and headed towards the small facility’s medical ward, where contracted nurses treat dialysis patients and inmates with high blood pressure.

Sometime in the next few hours, Chapman’s newest inmate was going to arrive, and he would need lots of attention, expensive attention.

“The people in here generally have some sort of medical issue, but we have never dealt with anything of the severity as Jerome Mobley, have we?” Chapman asked, turning to one of his senior deputies.

“No, sir,” she answered.

Chapman estimated an unbudgeted $400,000 may come out of taxpayers' pockets to pay for Jerome Mobley's recovery.

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On Friday, Grady Memorial Hospital discharged Mobley, about three weeks after he underwent facial reconstruction surgery.

Mobley is suspected of shooting his wife to death.

During a two-day, statewide manhunt last month, he turned the same shotgun used to allegedly kill his wife on himself,

while he was in a hay field.

He survived.

Mobley had a tracheotomy. Metal rods hold his facial reconstruction together, and he needs 24-hour care and a large hospital bed.

The large room where he will be kept once held county jail records.

A maintenance man had to wire a new surveillance camera in the room on Monday morning.

“With his complications, we’re probably going to have to be taking him to the emergency room,” Chapman told WSB-TV. “It’s just going to be an ongoing problem.”

Walton County is now faced with financing the delicate care associated with Mobley’s recovery, as he awaits due process.

“I would like for someone to answer that question for me: If he wasn’t under arrest, what would have happened to him when he was discharged from Grady last Friday?”

Chapman said his rural operation is under a rare medical contract budget, but it does not provide for anything as complex as the care needed to oversee Mobley's recovery.

He said, during Mobley’s three-week Grady stay, the Fulton County sheriff helped him by providing deputies to keep guard over the Walton County man.

When Grady called Chapman to provide “wound care” last week, Chapman said Fulton County was also ill-equipped to continue helping him.

A local hospital volunteered to keep Mobley until he could find a new medical contractor to move into the jail.

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Grady Hospital, which has a post-operative indigent assistance program, issued the following statement on its decision to release Mobley:

“Patients are discharged when hospital care is no longer required. For their continued recovery, some patients may require admission to a skilled nursing, rehabilitation, or other kind of post-acute care facility. For individuals in custody, providing the next appropriate level of care is the responsibility of the law enforcement agency.”

Chapman said he spoke with county leadership over the weekend.

“They don’t want to pay for it, but they’re going to have to pay for it,” he said.

Chapman said he is working with the judicial system to move Mobley through the court system as quickly as possible.

If he is convicted, the state prison will be better equipped to care for him, Chapman said.

"We have many issues that go on daily, but this will be the top of the pyramid right here," Chapman said. "This is going to cost the taxpayers of Walton lot," he said.

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