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San Quentin Prison Officials Report Death Of Condemned Inmate Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

SAN QUENTIN (CBS SF) -- Officials at San Quentin State Prison were investigating the death of a condemned inmate following a large outbreak of COVID-19 at the prison.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) said 71-year-old Richard Eugene Stitely, on San Quentin's Death Row since 1992, was found unresponsive in his cell Wednesday at 8:38 p.m.

He was given medical assistance and an ambulance was summoned, but he was pronounced dead about a half-hour later, CDCR said.

Richard Eugene Stitely
Richard Eugene Stitely (CDCR)

There were no signs of trauma and the cause of death and COVID-19 status would be determined by the Marin County Coroner, CDCR said.

In about three weeks, San Quentin has gone from zero to more than 500 cases of the coronavirus as of Thursday afternoon. It is estimated some 1 in 7 inmates has COVID-19, and the prison currently has the most coronavirus infections of all the state's prisons, according to data from the CDCR.

The coroner's office said it now performs COVID-19 tests as part of all forensic examinations.

Stitely was sentenced to death in Los Angeles County for the 1990 rape and murder of Carol Unger, 47, last seen leaving a bar in Reseda with Stitely. Her body was found the next day in a parking lot of a North Hollywood industrial complex.

There are currently 725 people on San Quentin's death row. In March of 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order placing a moratorium on executions in Californa, and ordered the closure of the execution chamber as San Quentin.

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