Chatham Co. sheriff explains why Leilani Simon is in protective custody at jail

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 2:25 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 30, 2022 at 6:26 PM EST
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CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Chatham County Sheriff John Wilcher said Leilani Simon has been in protective custody since she was arrested last week.

Leilani Simon is charged with murdering her son, Quinton Simon.

Sheriff Wilcher explained that protective custody means she’s in a cell by herself, separated from other inmates in the facility. Like other inmates in protective custody, Leilani gets an hour out by herself each day.

RELATED STORIES >>> Quinton Simon Case

Sheriff Wilcher says that placing people in protective custody is common, depending on what somebody is charged with.

“The whole idea of the things is to make sure that she is protected from people in the jail. This day and time, people are subject to do anything in here, especially when somebody is charged with a crime like she is. Not that she’s guilty, I’m not saying that. But, you’ve got some people that have the wrong idea and they would want to harm her. And we just can’t let that happen,” Sheriff Wilcher said.

Sheriff Wilcher also said that mental health workers determined she also needed to be placed on suicide watch. When an inmate is on suicide watch, he says that they’re sometimes placed in a padded room and given a smock to wear instead of a shirt and pants because those items could be used to hang yourself.

“If they got their clothes and they try to hang herself with them, and you know, if they’re in a room with a sink or a toilet, they’ll try to break that and harm herself or whatever. So, you know, you have to take all the precautions you can to make sure they’re taken care of,” Sheriff Wilcher said.

Leilani’s mother, Billie Howell, said that she hasn’t heard from Leilani since she was arrested. She says when she called and asked the jail why, they told her Leilani couldn’t make phone calls for security reasons.

Sheriff Wilcher was asked about her phone privileges.

“She can call her family when she’s out for her hour, she can put a message on the kiosk to text them, or she can do a visitation with them on the kiosk. That’s left up to her, that’s not left up to me,” Sheriff Wilcher said.

Sheriff Wilcher said, at the end of the day, he and everyone at the jail treat each inmate the same regardless of who they are or what their charges may be.

“We could care less what the charges are or anything. We’re just a holding facility. We treat everyone in this jail the same. And that’s the way it is,” Sheriff Wilcher said.

Leilani Simon waived her right to appear at her arraignment last week where she didn’t get bond. She is set to appear in a preliminary hearing on Jan. 11, 2023.