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Jail Guards Charged in Epstein Suicide Could Avoid Prosecution

Both guards, their lawyers noted, had worked several overtime shifts the week that Mr. Epstein killed himself. In addition, he had been left alone without a cellmate on the night in question and the next morning despite another suicide attempt about three weeks earlier.

Ms. Noel’s lawyer, Jason E. Foy, said after the charges were announced that he believed there were “outside circumstances that are driving this prosecution.” Mr. Thomas’s lawyer, Montell Figgins, said that Mr. Epstein had died “because of a system that failed completely.”

On Friday, Mr. Figgins said that his client was “very happy” with the resolution of the case.

“The silver lining of this incident is to shine light on the issues in the criminal justice system and how it can be improved for everyone involved,” Mr. Figgins said. “Is society going to benefit by putting a military veteran who’s worked his whole life, who has a family to support, in jail?”

He added, “If someone wants to look at this particular situation and say the sentence in this case is too light, I would say to them, have you ever made a mistake in your job?”

Mr. Foy could not immediately be reached for comment.

The indictment charging the guards highlighted lapses in the operation of the high-security unit at the Manhattan jail. It also offered the first official narrative of the events preceding his death.

Security cameras did not show anyone entering the cellblock where Mr. Epstein was housed, the indictment said, suggesting that despite the conjecture and conspiracy theories swirling around him and his connections to powerful people, his death was a suicide as New York City’s chief medical examiner had ruled.

Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite who was Mr. Epstein’s longtime companion, is awaiting trial on charges that she contributed to his abuse of teenage girls more than two decades ago. She has pleaded not guilty and has sought several times, unsuccessfully, to be freed on bail.

Benjamin Weiser and Troy Closson contributed reporting.

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