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Police: Texarkana man's 9-story fall from apartment building ruled suicide

Police: Texarkana man's 9-story fall from apartment building ruled suicide

December 5th, 2018 by Lori Dunn and Lynn LaRowe in Texarkana News

A 76-year-old man's death has been ruled a suicide after he jumped from the ninth floor of the Robison Terrace high rise apartment building in Texarkana, Texas, early Wednesday.

James H. Chism, 76, was pronounced dead at the scene, said Shawn Vaughn, spokesman for Texarkana, Texas, Police Department.

Police were called about 12:34 a.m. Wednesday to the building, Vaughn said.

A security guard at the apartment building called police after he saw a man on the balcony of a ninth-floor apartment.

When police officers responded, they found the man on the ninth-floor balcony and holding on to a rail on the 10th-floor balcony. Officers talked to the man for about five minutes but he would not let them get close to him, Vaughn said. He then let go of the rail and jumped.

At the time of his death, Chism was free on bond following an arrest for aggravated sexual assault of a disabled person, a first-degree felony punishable by five to 99 years or life in prison. Chism was accused of having sex with the 18-year-old mentally disabled daughter of a woman he once had a romantic relationship with, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The teen has a permanent guardian and has been deemed by medical experts to be incapable of driving a car, managing her own finances or caring for herself independently and thus incapable of consenting to sex, according to the affidavit.

Chism was in a Bowie County courtroom Monday for a pre-indictment hearing before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell on the charge. The case was on track for presentation to a Bowie County grand jury for formal indictment prior to Chism's apparent suicide. If a grand jury had indicted Chism, his case would have been scheduled for trial.

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