DECATUR — The Macon County Jail prisoner accused of handing out smuggled drugs behind bars to try and raise his own bail money pleaded not guilty to 18 charges Wednesday.

Romell D. Hill, 34, appeared before Macon County Circuit Court Judge Phoebe Bowers at an arraignment hearing with his public defender, David Ellison.

Hill faces six counts of bringing contraband into a penal institution including 0.4 grams each of both cocaine and heroin, 5.9 grams of methamphetamine, 1.4 grams of a drug known as “pink bath salts,” 10 morphine (30 milligram) tablets and two ecstasy pills.

Hill faces six additional charges for possessing the drugs with intent to deliver and another six charges for simply possessing them.

Presenting the case, Macon County State’s Attorney Jay Scott questioned Corrections Sgt. Roger Pope who said four inmates — including Hill — had to be treated at a hospital for extremely high blood pressure and other effects linked to drug use April 20.

In a sworn affidavit, Pope described Hill as “appearing extremely intoxicated and ... breathing heavy.” He said jail officers administered the drug overdose antidote Narcan before ambulance paramedics were called.

Pope said Hill had smuggled the large quantity of drugs into the jail concealed in his rectum after his arrest April 18 on a warrant. He then started trading the drugs for “commissary items and potentially other funds” he could use for bail money.

Pope said jail staff had received a tip about what was going on the afternoon of April 20 and began strip searches in the “Pod A” maximum security area of the jail. Out of 17 inmates held in that area, Pope said it was determined that 14 of them had used some of the drugs Hill smuggled in.

Hill remains in custody in lieu of posting $250,000 bail. He is due in court again for a pretrial hearing June 26.


Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid