SAN QUENTIN (CBS13) — Officials are investigating whether a death row inmate found dead in his cell at San Quentin State Prison died from the coronavirus.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says 75-year-old Joseph Cordova had been on death row since 2007. He was found unresponsive in his single cell on Wednesday afternoon; officials say there were no signs of trauma.
Cordova had been sentenced to death for the murder of an 8-year-old Contra Costa girl.
The Marin County coroner will now determine whether or not Cordova had contracted COVID-19.
California lawmakers blasting state corrections officials at a hearing on Wednesday for their handling of a coronavirus outbreak that infected some 2,600 inmates and more than 450 prison employees. About 1,100 confirmed coronavirus cases were at San Quentin alone.
Officials blamed that outbreak on an inmate transfer that relied on outdated test results.
The San Francisco public defender’s office is working to identify prisoners who can be released early to avoid more infections at San Quentin.