7th California death row inmate dies; COVID-19 suspected

Razor wire encircles the exercise yard at San Quentin State Prison.
Razor wire encircles the exercise yard at San Quentin.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Another California death row inmate, the seventh, has died from what appears to be complications of COVID-19 amid an outbreak of the novel coronavirus sweeping through San Quentin State Prison, authorities said Monday.

Troy A. Ashmus, 58, died Monday at a hospital outside the prison near San Francisco, according to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The exact cause of his death was under investigation but appeared to be COVID-19-related, prison officials said.

Ashmus was the seventh death row prisoner and the 12th overall at San Quentin to die from confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections.


Ashmus was sent to death row in 1986 after being convicted of raping 7-year-old Marcella Davis, who had biked to a Sacramento park in May 1984. Plastic bags, cellophane and the girl’s shorts were shoved down her throat, prosecutors said.

The outbreak at San Quentin occurred after 121 inmates were transferred from the California Institution for Men in Chino late last month, none of whom had been tested up to a month before their transfers. The Chino prison has seen more than a dozen inmates die of complications related to COVID-19.

There have been nearly 7,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases among inmates in the state prison system, including more than 2,000 active cases and 39 confirmed deaths, according to state figures.

Dozens of inmates are hospitalized, some of them in intensive care.

More than 800 employees also have active cases of COVID-19, according to corrections officials.