Rajib Mitra's lawyer said Monday that if Mitra had intended to kill himself in the Dane County Jail, he showed no signs of it during a meeting to talk about Mitra's appeal just hours before Mitra committed suicide on Friday.
Dane County investigators are trying to determine how Mitra, 33, gained access to a cleaning closet on the fourth floor of the Public Safety Building, where he was being housed in a pod that contained scores of other inmates, Sheriff's spokeswoman Elise Schaffer said.
Mitra was found about 5 p.m. Friday hanging from an overhead mechanical pipe in the cleaning closet. Schaffer said the sheriff's office is not disclosing what he used to hang himself or other details until an investigation is finished.
The Dane County Medical Examiner's Office ruled Mitra's death a suicide.
On Thursday, Mitra was sentenced to 6-1/2 years in prison by Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi for sexual exploitation of a child and possession of child pornography. The sentence was handed down just months after Mitra finished serving an eight-year federal prison sentence for jamming Madison police radios during Halloween weekend in 2003.
Mitra's lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Jon Helland, said the new sentence, which he and Mitra thought to be harsh, was coupled with extended supervision that would have barred Mitra from computers and required that he register as a sex offender.
But Helland said if Mitra felt the penalties were too burdensome, he never showed it.
"He was always the same with me," Helland said. "He didn't reveal much emotionally."
Schaffer said Mitra had been evaluated by jail mental health staff and was placed in an area where he would be around 40 or 50 other people instead of alone in a cell. But he was not on a suicide watch.
Helland said that he was "surprised but not shocked" that Mitra took his own life.
"To be pulled back in (to prison) when you thought you were out, that's harsh," Helland said.
Mitra was a 24-year-old UW-Madison graduate student in 2003 when he was charged in U.S. District Court in Madison with jamming Madison police radios. At the same time, he was dating a 16-year-old girl whom he had met in an Internet chat room.
When Mitra's computer and radios were seized as part of the radio jamming investigation, police found that portions of the computer's hard drive had been heavily encrypted, keeping police from discovering their contents until 2009.
Once decrypted, police found child pornography and sexually-oriented pictures of the girl. Mitra was convicted by a jury of the sexual exploitation and child pornography charges in January.