Fikri Erdem. (Credit: Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office)

Man kills self at Gwinnett jail after conviction in son's murder

The same day he was convicted of killing his special needs son, Fikri Erdem jumped from the second floor of the Gwinnett County jail and killed himself, officials said.

Erdem — who had purportedly try to commit suicide on the same night in Nov. 2015 in which he cut his 12-year-old child’s throat — was being kept with the jail’s general population when he took his own life Friday, a sheriff’s office spokeswoman said.

He was returned to his regular first-floor cell after a jury found him guilty but mentally ill on charges including murder, felony murder and aggravated assault. 

Erdem “exhibited no signs of emotional distress or suicidal ideation” before walking through his unit’s day room, taking the stairs “two at a time” and leaping from the second floor, Deputy Shannon Volkodav said. 

“The entire incident took 19 seconds,” Volkodav said.

Erdem was pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital via ambulance, she said. 

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Volkodav said that, barring outward signs of suicidal tendencies, the jail’s protocol for suicide prevention “applies to inmates who have been sentenced,” not merely convicted. 

Erdem was not scheduled to be sentenced until this week, defense attorney Scott Estes said.

According to previous statements by the Lilburn Police Department, Erdem took his 12-year-old son Hakan — who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy — to a parking lot near the family’s home and killed him with a large kitchen knife on the night of Nov. 16, 2015. The father then stabbed himself in the arms and stomach before calling 911. 

Erdem had reportedly called his wife about 90 minutes earlier and apologized for what he planned to do.

Erdem’s wife later told police that their son, a student at Sweetwater Middle School, required constant care and often yelled and screamed. She said her husband hadn’t been able to sleep for more than a week.

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