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Police: 'Medical episode' contributed to De Baca deputy's death

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Staff report

New Mexico State Police believe a “medical episode” contributed to the death of De Baca County Democratic candidate for sheriff, Deputy Mylessa Denny.

State police Sgt. Damyan Brown said the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator will conduct an autopsy, but preliminary indications are that Denny had a medical episode Tuesday evening.

Denny was found unresponsive outside of her squad car in the parking lot of the sheriff’s office Tuesday evening. Denny was transported to Plains Regional Medical Center in Clovis where she was pronounced dead about 7 p.m., according to representatives for the hospital.

Amy Boule, Operations Director for the medical investigators office, said autopsy results could take several months if toxicology tests are needed.

Denny, 39, was discovered on the pavement by a detention officer who went to her aid.

Denny had completed her shift at about 4 p.m., according to De Baca County sheriff Dennis Cleaver.

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Mylessa Denny, being sworn in by Clovis Police Chief Steve Sanders, was a Clovis police officer from 2011 to 2013. Clovis police paid tribute to Denny on their Facebook page Wednesday.

Denny, an Army veteran, won the Democratic nomination for sheriff in the primary election over Sheriff Dennis Cleaver. Deputy Kurt Griego filed as an independent to run against her in the Nov. 4 general election.

De Baca Democratic party chair Bill Wertheim said the party will have to hold another election, after a meeting with the Democratic State Central Committee, to nominate a candidate for the general election ballot.

New Mexico last elected a female sheriff in 1966 when Doris McCarty won the Hidalgo County job after her husband’s consecutive terms prevented him from running again.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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