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Murder defendant dies after being found unresponsive in jail cell

A 22-year-old woman accused of killing her infant daughter is the first in-custody death for the Alaska Department of Corrections for 2017.

Nina Amigale Alexie was found unresponsive in her cell at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center at 3:29 p.m. on Friday by on-duty correctional officers. She apparently had tried to commit suicide, the corrections department said in a statement.

"Officers and medical staff responded and began life saving measures," the statement says.

Anchorage medics took Alexie to Alaska Regional Hospital at 4:02 p.m. She remained at the hospital until her death Tuesday afternoon, according to the department.

Alexie had been in jail since her arrest on July 28 when she was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Prosecutors say Alexie killed her 4-month-old daughter, Amigale, in a room at a transitional housing facility. At the time, Alexie, her boyfriend and the baby were living at Safe Haven, which provides temporary housing to homeless families.

A bail document filed in the case says homicide detectives determined Alexie was alone in a room with her daughter when the baby died. Alexie told police she stopped Amigale's cries by stuffing a knit cap in her mouth, though she never admitted to murder, according to the document.

Prosecutors noted Alexie's struggles with substance abuse in court documents. She had 14 criminal convictions since turning 18 in 2012.

DOC says her family has been told about the death. Alexie's death will be reviewed by Alaska State Troopers and the State Medical Examiner Office, as is the procedure with all inmate deaths. Corrections will carry out its own internal investigation, as well.

There were 11 in-custody deaths in 2016, said Corey Allen-Young, DOC spokesperson.

The most recent death was 71-year-old Jim Ferguson on Nov. 23. He was a Goose Creek Correctional Center inmate who died of a terminal illness.

Two days before Ferguson's death, Anchorage Correctional Complex inmate Kristoffer Reuer, 37, died at a local hospital three days after he was found unconscious in his cell "from an apparent suicide attempt."

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