Justice finally arrives to death row at San Quentin – Eight dead of coronavirus, and their crimes

Daily Mail:

  •  John Beames, 67, on Tuesday became the eighth death row inmate at San Quentin State Prison, California, to die of coronavirus
  • More than half of the 15 coronavirus deaths in the prison have been condemned inmates 
  • Beames was found guilty of torturing and murdering a 15-month-old girl
  • The first inmate on death row to die of the virus was Richard Stitely on June 24
  • All eight of the death row coronavirus victims were murderers
  • The prison is experiencing the worst inmate outbreak in California
  • Almost two-thirds of its inmate population has now been infected at some point since the start of the pandemic 

Eight prisoners on death row are among at least 15 victims of coronavirus in California’s oldest prison as its outbreak worsens. 

San Quentin State Prison confirmed Tuesday the death of John Beames, 67, of what appeared to be complications related to COVID-19. 

The coroner is still to determine his exact cause of death. 

The prison is experiencing the worst inmate outbreak in California with almost two thirds of its inmates already infected.   It had previously avoided an outbreak until several detainees from the California Institution for Men in Chino were transferred there in late May, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).

Since then, the outbreak has ravaged through the prison’s inmates and has hit death row the hardest. Over half of the deaths in the prison to this point were inmates on death row, which is the nation’s largest.   

Beames became the eight death row inmate believed to have died from coronavirus as a result of the escalating outbreak, according to Associated Press.  He was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of a 15-month-old child and sentenced to death in Tulare County on October 11, 1995.  He had moved into the home of Angelita McMains and her young daughter Cassie McMains in April 1993. 

The young girl bled to death in January 1994 after her liver was hit so hard it nearly split in two, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. She also had multiple other physical injuries, including a broken leg, burns and black eyes, in the months before her death. 

Beames was found guilty of torturing and killing the toddler. He was admitted onto California’s death row on November 7, 1995. 

The first death of a condemned person in San Quentin was reported in mid-June.  Richard E. Stitely, who had been on California’s death row for close to 30 years, died on June 24 aged 71. His COVID-19 status was not initially known but according to CNN, he later became the first known death linked to coronavirus inside the California prison. 

Stitely was sentenced to death in Los Angeles County on September 14, 1992, for the rape and murder of Carol Unger, 47, who on January 19, 1990 was last seen leaving the White Oak Bar in Reseda with Stitely.  The next day her body was found in a parking lot of a North Hollywood industrial complex. 

There were no other coronavirus victims on death row until July 3, which began a two-week spike in deaths.  The other six condemned inmates all died between July 3 and July 20, all convicted murderers and some also charged with rape and other felonies. 

Two inmates on death row died on July 3 – Scott Thomas Erskine, 57, who had been on California’s death row since 2004, and Manuel Machado Alvarez, 59, who had been on death row since 1989. 

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