07 July 2020 :
5 prisoners die of COVID-19 at San Quentin Death Row.
While California has not executed a death row inmate since 2006, an out-of-control COVID-19 outbreak at San Quentin State Prison may have contributed to the death of a 5th condemned inmate on Saturday.
To date, more than 1,300 prisoners and 120 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 at the state prison in Marin County. Among those who have fallen victims to the deadly illness have been San Quentin’s aging population on death row.
On Saturday, Dewayne Michael Carey, 59, died at an outside hospital from what appear to be complications related to COVID-19. An exact cause of death has not yet been determined.
Carey was committed to CDCR on Dec. 16, 1996 as a condemned inmate from Los Angeles County for 1st-degree, special-circumstances murder. He was convicted of killing Ernestine Campbell in her home.
On Friday, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation identified two inmates who died while being treated for COVID-19 infections as Scott Thomas Erskine, 57, and Manuel Machado Alvarez, 59. Both died while being treated at San Francisco Bay Area hospitals.
Erskine had been on death row since 2004 for the murder of 2 young boys in San Diego, while Machado had been on death row since 1989 for a string of crimes in Sacramento including rape and murder.
There have been 2 other deaths of condemned inmates deaths amid an exploding number of coronavirus cases at the prison.
Richard Stitely, 71, was found unresponsive in his cell last week on June 29 and was confirmed Monday to have tested positive for COVID-19. He was sentenced for the 1990 rape and murder of a 47-year-old woman in Los Angeles County.
Joseph S. Cordova, 75, was found dead in his cell on July 1. He had been sentenced to death for the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in San Pablo.
The CDCR said there are currently 722 people on California’s death row. While California doesn’t currently have a way to carry out capital punishment, inmates still continue to be sentenced to death.
Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on it shortly after taking office and the death chamber at San Quentin was dismantled. The state has executed only 13 murderers since 1978, the last in 2006.