‘It wasn’t the person that we all knew’: Colleagues shocked by autopsy showing Judge Tom Jarrell overdosed

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- The State’s Attorney Generals Office said that if asked, they would review cases that were overseen in Chief District Judge Tom Jarrell’s courtroom in Guilford County.

The 56-year-old was found unresponsive on his bedroom floor on Aug. 3 in High Point.

An autopsy report released on Thursday revealed that his cause of death was due to an overdose of fentanyl and heroin.

When asked, the state’s AG office said that right now, they have not been asked to review any past cases that Jarrell oversaw in his 20-year career.

They stated that an investigation would have to be done and that the district attorney’s office would then have to ask them to come in for reviews.

On Friday morning, FOX8 spoke with former Chief District Judge for Guilford County Lawrence McSwain.

“He was a good person. He did a lot of good for the community, a lot of good for the state, and that is what we are going to focus on,” McSwain said.

The two judges served with each other for several years in Guilford County.

McSwain said it was heartbreaking to hear the news of his passing and even more so to hear the findings in the autopsy.

“It was a shock. It wasn’t the person that we all knew,” he said.

McSwain said Jarrell was beloved by the judges throughout the state. They would all communicate at the regularly-scheduled state district judge’s conference.

“Why didn’t we see some signs of something that would have let us know that something was wrong?” McSwain said.

Jarrell’s death is the 18th heroin-related death in the city of High Point in 2019.

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