- Associated Press - Monday, March 31, 2014

NEW PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (AP) - A rare coroner’s inquest is being held to try to determine what killed an eastern Pennsylvania prisoner a year ago.

The inquest beginning Monday in Schuylkill County, the county’s first in more than a decade, focuses on the March 2013 death of Matthew Koncsler, 21, of Shenandoah.

Authorities said Koncsler began serving a drug sentence less than two weeks before he was found dead in his cell in the county prison. An autopsy didn’t reveal a cause of death.

“This was an unusual death. I think we need to shine some light on it,” Dr. David J. Moylan III, county coroner, told The (Pottsville) Republican-Herald (https://bit.ly/1lhlBxX ).

District Attorney Christine Holman has said authorities hope to determine whether the death was a criminal act or negligence, or if the cause is still unknown.

Attorney Robert Matta, who represents Koncsler’s family, said no lawsuit has been filed in the case, but family members are grateful that officials are investigating.

“The family is really just trying to find some answers related to the young man’s death,” Matta said.

Holman said she plans to present videotaped testimony from two doctors as well as testimony from other county prisoners, police, guards, medical personnel and relatives. A jury of six will listen to evidence in an effort to determine how Koncsler died.

Holman said the law doesn’t say whether a jury vote needs to be unanimous, and any decision would be followed by a trial to fix legal responsibility for the death.

“An inquest is only a preliminary investigation, and not a trial on the merits,” he said.

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Information from: Pottsville Republican and Herald, https://www.republicanherald.com

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