“What brings you to Demopolis?”
The question seemed harmless, as did the questioner, Sgt. Tim Soronen of the Demopolis, Alabama police department. Diane Avera, the 45-year-old grandmother from Meridian, Mississippi to whom that question was posed, couldn’t see any harm in answering it candidly.
“I came over to buy some Sudafed for our scuba diving trip this weekend, since we can’t buy it in Meridian anymore,” Mrs. Avera explained.
Soronen asked Avera if she knew it was against the law to cross the state line to buy Sudafed.
“No, sir, I did not know,” the startled woman replied.
“I need you to step out of the car,” Soronen demanded.
“For what? I swear I didn’t know. What did I do?” Avera asked in alarm.
“You came to Demopolis to buy some Sudafed,” came the curt response. “Step to the back of the truck.”
Before the sun set on July 29, 2010, Diane Avera was in the Marengo County Jail, where she would remain for forty days. At one point she was shackled to a restraint chair for 17 hours. During that time she was denied water or access to a bathroom. She also developed edema in her feet. Edema-related blood clots have been identified as the cause of death for several of the inmates who have perished while chained to the “Devil’s Chair.”
The story actually . . . gets much worse.