San Quentin State Prison authorities are awaiting the results of an autopsy on death row inmate Joseph Musselwhite, who was found dead Tuesday night in his cell, according to a correctional lieutenant. Musselwhite, 47, was found unresponsive in his cell at 7:21 p.m. Tuesday and was pronounced dead shortly afterward. An autopsy was performed by the Marin County coroner’s office Thursday, according to Lt. Sam Robinson. Musselwhite was sentenced to death in Sacramento County in 1990 for the Dec. 7, 1987, murder of Norma Iris Painter and the Nov. 30, 1987, attempted murder of Shawn May. He was convicted of one count of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of murder in the commission of a robbery, as well as one
count of attempted second-degree murder. Robinson said while prison authorities are awaiting the results of the autopsy, the death does not appear to be a suicide since no note was left, and no noose or other items usually used in a suicide were found.
Musselwhite was in a single cell at the prison. Since 1978, when California reinstated capital punishment, 50 death row inmates have died from natural causes, 17 committed suicide, 13 were executed in California, one other was executed in Missouri, and five others have died from other causes. There were 698 people on death row in the state as of Wednesday.
San Quetntin Prison Lt. Sam Robinson (415) 455-5008
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