Condemned Inmate James Karis Found Dead in His Cell

Published by on January 31, 2013

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California Department of Corrections Press Release

SAN QUENTIN – Condemned inmate James Leslie Karis, 61, who was on California’s death row from Sacramento County, was found unresponsive in his cell this morning at San Quentin State Prison. Subsequently, he was pronounced dead at the prison on January 31, 2013, at 6:40 a.m. The cause of death is unknown pending the results of an autopsy. Karis was single-celled.

Karis was sentenced to death on September 17, 1982, by a Sacramento County jury for the July 8, 1981, rape and murder of Peggy Pennington, 34, and the attempted murder of Patty Vander Dussen, 27. Karis had abducted them during their daily walk around the block of the El Dorado County Welfare Department where both women were employed. Karis had been on death row since September 20, 1982.

Since 1978 when California reinstated capital punishment, 57 condemned inmates have died from natural causes, 21 have committed suicide, 13 have been executed in California, one was executed in Missouri; and six have died from other causes. There are 729 offenders on California’s death row.

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