San Quentin death row inmate who died last week had COVID-19

A San Quentin State Prison death row inmate who died last Wednesday tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, one of more than 1,000 inmates at the facility who have tested positive for the virus, the Marin County coroner's office said Monday.

Richard Stitely, 71, died Wednesday after being on death row since 1992 following his conviction for the rape and murder of Carol Unger, 47, in Southern California in 1990.

Stitely was found unresponsive in his cell with no signs of trauma on Wednesday night and was pronounced dead less than 30 minutes later, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Photo of death row inmate Richard Stitely, 71, who died on Wednesday, June 24, 2020.

The coroner's office said although he was determined to be positive for COVID-19, Stitely's cause of death will be determined following a forensic post-mortem exam and toxicology testing scheduled for Tuesday.

As of Monday, the CDCR has reported 1,021 COVID-19 cases at San Quentin, including 978 new cases in the last 14 days. Criminal justice advocates have pointed to a recent transfer of inmates from the California Institution for Men in Southern California as an inflection point for the virus' spread at San Quentin.