Mother wants answers after Orange County Jail inmate dies

By Amanda McKenzie, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 11, 2015, 4:40 PM EDT

The mother of an Orange County inmate who died in custody wants answers.

Max Gracia, 22, was arrested last week after Orlando police said he robbed a Circle K convenience store at gunpoint. He then tried to evade arrest by fighting off a police dog and treading water for more than two hours in Lake Mann.

The jail said he died Monday.

But his mother tells a very different story. She said her son suffered a painful seizure on Sunday night and was found dead in his cell the next day.

“It was devastating,” mother Willine Gracia said. “My entire world stopped.”

Gracia said she never imagined she would have to bury her son. After his latest arrest for an armed robbery, she wasn’t speaking to him in jail.

“I was so upset with my son,” she said. “I was at my end with my son, because I did not raise him this way.”

Gracia's booking photo at Orange County jail shows him sitting in a wheelchair.

“Unfortunate that my son has been in and out of jail this year and last year and they would give him his medications,” Willine Gracia said.

She said her son had a history of seizures.

“They did tell me that he had had a seizure the night before,” she said. “He had let them know that he was having seizures. He was in a lot of pain and they had moved him to another room.”

The Orange County Jail said Gracia was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center on Monday where he was pronounced dead.

“The detective told me that they found him dead,” Willine Gracia said. “I want to know why he wasn’t given the proper attention. Don’t take him to ORMC after he’s dead. Take him when he’s complaining of hurting. Get him the help that he needs. He may be alive today if that had been done.”

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office is handling the death investigation. The Orlando Police Department is in charge of the robbery investigation and the Orange County Jail is performing an internal investigation.

The medical examiner’s office is conducting the autopsy, which should be complete in 10 to 12 weeks.