A state prison inmate who had participated in the statewide hunger strike has died, apparently by hanging himself in his isolation cell, state corrections officials said Saturday.
The death of the 32-year-old man occurred Monday in the segregation unit at California State Prison near Corcoran, but was not confirmed by state corrections officials until after The Times learned of it from inmate advocacy groups. Conditions in those isolation units are the core focus of a hunger strike that began July 8 and is now in its 20th day with 601 inmates continuing to refuse meals.
State officials refused Saturday to name the prisoner because they said they could not verify that his family members had been contacted. Spokeswoman Terry Thornton said the man was found unresponsive in his cell, and pronounced dead in the prison's hospital. She said he was serving a double-life sentence from Solano County for attempted first-degree murder and was pending trial for the murder of his cellmate in 2007, also at Corcoran.
The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, representing a number of inmate advocacy organizations, identified the inmate as Billy "Guero" Sell.
A spokeswoman for the court-appointed agency that runs prison healthcare services, Joyce Hayhoe, said the man "may have been originally on the hunger strike and then went off."