AUGUSTA — An inmate at the Kennebec County jail was found dead in his cell just before 5 a.m. Tuesday.

Sheriff Randall Liberty identified the man as Nicholas Michael Powell, 22, whose most recent address is in Lewiston, but who grew up in Clinton and Fairfield.

The death is under investigation, and the state medical examiner was scheduled to do an autopsy today.

Liberty said Powell appeared to be sleeping during the 4 a.m. check. But when his cell was unlocked at 4:50 a.m. so he could begin his work as a trusty in the jail kitchen, he didn’t wake up.

Augusta Rescue was called to assist jail personnel.

“All attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful,” Liberty said Tuesday.

Court and jail records show that Powell was serving a nine-month sentence for violating probation on a domestic violence assault conviction. He had come into the jail in Augusta in September.

Once that sentence ended, he was to pay a fine of $440 for failing to appear in court on a contempt charge or pay it off at a rate of $50 per day by remaining in jail.

“He was no trouble as an inmate and was working well inside,” Liberty said. “He was an inside trusty and hadn’t earned his way out yet.” As a trusty, Powell earned a day off his sentence for each two days worked.

Liberty said he talked to Powell’s family and they told him there was a history of cardiac problems in the family and that Powell had a heart murmur.

Records also show that Powell grew up in the northern end of Kennebec County, with addresses in Clinton, Fairfield, and he had family in Oakland.

He said Powell had passed a drug screening test Monday afternoon, a requirement for inmates who want to work as trusties outside the jail.

Powell’s previous record included convictions for burglary of a motor vehicle and theft.

Before Powell, the most recent death in the Augusta jail was Arthur Traweek, who hanged himself in January 2009.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]