RENO — A 23-year-old man who sued the heavy-metal rock group Judas Priest over his 1985 suicide attempt has died in Washoe Medical Center six days after lapsing into a coma, a hospital spokesman said Wednesday.
David Stipech said James Vance was pronounced dead at 10:48 p.m. Tuesday. He had been in a coma since Thanksgiving Day.
Stipech said that under federal patient confidentiality regulations, he could say nothing more about the man's death. Vance had been on a life-support system since he lapsed into the coma.
An autopsy was scheduled later today.
Vance and his parents are suing Judas Priest, claiming that subliminal messages in the British group's music caused Vance and Raymond Belknap, 19, to make a suicide pact after listening to the group's "Stained Class" album for several hours.
The two took a shotgun to a church playground in nearby Sparks two days before Christmas, 1985, and shot themselves in the head. Belknap died instantly and Vance was disfigured after shooting away part of his face.
The 1986 lawsuit filed by the Vance and Belknap families is pending in Washoe District Court.
Vance was admitted to the hospital Nov. 15 for treatment of depression and was scheduled to be released last Thursday, the day he went into a coma.
Vance's mother, Phyllis Vance, said doctors told her a short time later that her son was 99.9% brain dead.
Vance's attorney, Timothy Post, said he has "a strong, strong hunch" that a drug overdose sent his client into a coma, but said he was not getting any answers from the hospital.
Phyllis Vance said doctors told her only that they were uncertain what caused her son to go into a coma.
Before Vance died, Post said his death would have no effect on the lawsuit.
He said Vance has a 1-year-old daughter by a girlfriend and the daughter would become heir to his estate.
He added that Vance had given lengthy depositions which could be read in a court proceeding.