Parents trying to cope with their daughter's death in prison

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FLUVANNA COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Deanna Niece unexpectedly died in her prison cell on July 25, 2017, just 14 days before she was supposed to be released from the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women.

Thirty-eight-year-old Deanna Niece’s parents, Ed and Tena Niece, say although their daughter took a wrong path in life, she was a fun-loving mother and did not deserve to die.

“They took my daughter away from me because they didn't want to help her," said Tena.

Now, they are trying to cope with the loss of their daughter and honor her memory. Deanna's ashes sit nestled in a wooden box on a mantle in the couple’s home in Portsmouth.

Tena cried saying her family’s world came crashing down when they learned that their daughter suddenly died.

Deanna was incarcerated twice. She served 6.5 years for check fraud at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women and was released. She violated the conditions of her parole and was sentenced to another 4.5 years at the correctional center.

However, when Deanna entered prison the second time, her parents say her medical state was much worse. They say she had been diagnosed with a neurological disorder causing brain lesions and seizures.

“Her death was multiple embolisms,” said Ed. “Basically, she had blood clots that filled her lungs. She was sentenced for a parole violation, not to death."

According to a court filing from the Legal Aid Justice Center, Deanna did not receive adequate medical care. The filing says on the day of Deanna death, she “complained of shortness of breath and fell to the ground, not able to walk.”

Tena says they told her daughter to go lay down after she repeatedly said she couldn’t breathe.

“She was crying and begging please take me to medical, please take me to medical and they didn't do that. She deserved that,” said Tena. “I know she was incarcerated, but she’s not an animal. She was our child and she deserved medical attention and didn’t get it."

The court filing says the nurses “did not refer her for further medical attention” and things took a turn for the worse the night of July 25, 2017.

Records show that Deanna began to convulse, vomit and cough up blood. Also, there was no suctioning equipment, oxygen or stretcher available.

“They revived her two times and she kept coming back to that gurgling sound,” said Ed. “She said four words and I wish I knew what the four words were, but I’d like to think that she said ‘Father I'm coming home’ and drifted off to her eternal destination."

It’s been almost four months since Deanna death, and her parents are trying to make sense of, in their words, the “inhumane treatment” of their child.

"They're supposed to have technical people there that know the difference between what's wrong and what's right,” said Ed. “I hold them accountable for that."

The Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women and the Virginia Department of Corrections declined to comment on the case.

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