San Quentin death-row inmate Arias dies in hospital

SAN QUENTIN — A 58-year-old man convicted of murder who was also serving a life sentence without parole died Sunday of apparent COVID-19 complications, state prison officials said.

In a statement Sunday evening, state prison officials said death-row inmate Pedro Arias had been receiving treatment at an outside hospital, and that a coroner will pronounce an exact cause of death for Romero, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said.

Arias had been on death row since March 5, 1990, nearly two weeks after his Sacramento County sentencing for first-degree murder and second-degree robbery while armed with a firearm.

He had also received a life sentence without parole after convictions for kidnapping for ransom, penetration with a foreign object, attempted sodomy, lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14, sodomy of a child under 14, two counts of forcible rape, second-degree robbery and enhancements for the use of a firearm.

At least two dozen San Quentin prisoners have died, including several sent to Bay Area medical centers for treatment in the wake of a COVID-19 outbreak that has sickened more than a thousand prisoners.

Last weekend, protesters sought to marshal support to ease the pandemic’s deadly impact within state prison facilities. On Sunday, a prison guard who had been battling the illness succumbed.

Arias was one of 714 people awaiting execution on California’s Death Row, though Gov. Gavin Newsom has effectively suspended the death penalty here.

Contact George Kelly at 408-859-5180.

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Author: George Kelly