Woman who watched sister die in jail pleads guilty to drug charge

GOODLAND, Kan. - A Kansas City woman who watched helplessly as her sister died in a Goodland, Kan., jail entered a guilty plea for one of the charges against her.

Joy Biggs told 41 Action News she expects to receive her sentence for a Drug Tax stamp violation in October.

Biggs and her sister, Brenda Sewell, were driving back from Colorado when they were stopped for speeding just after they crossed the state line into Kansas .

The Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper arrested the two after finding marijuana in the car. Biggs told 41 Action News that Sewell had purchased the marijuana to help her manage several health concerns.

RELATED: "The Dark State": A 41 Action News investigation

41 Action News has previously reported on the situation Biggs and another inmate, Louann Medrano, say lead to Sewell’s death in the Sherman County jail.

The two claim jailers denied Sewell prescriptions she needed to treat her medical conditions. In addition, they say jailers ignored their calls for help when they noticed Sewell’s health taking a turn for the worse.

The Sherman County prosecutor and the Sherman County Sheriff have repeatedly denied requests by 41 Action News to discuss the case.

Biggs told 41 Action News that the prosecutor dropped all but one charge against her: the drug tax stamp charge.

Biggs doesn’t know how that charge will affect the rest of her life and said she’s disappointed all of the charges weren’t dropped. However, she said she doesn’t have the money to continue to fight the charge and is sustained by the support of family and friends.

“I have a lot of prayers, a lot of friends and family behind me and that’s what matters,” Biggs said. “ That’s what helped a lot. Prayers matter.”

Biggs said she is also encouraged by the reaction her sister’s story received after it was included in 41 Action News’ series “The Dark State” which examined how citizens, including Joy, could not get access to records concerning their cases which are available in every other state in the country .

Not long after the series aired, the Kansas Legislature voted to open some of the records in question. Biggs told 41 Action News she is comforted by the fact her sister’s story helped spark change for others and that her sister did not die in vain.

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