SAN QUENTIN (CBS SF) – A handyman convicted of the co-killings of an elderly couple who hired him and who were put on San Quentin death row died on an outside hospital early Wednesday morning.
71-year-old Thomas Potts was sentenced to death for the Kings County murders of Fred and Shirley Jenks and has been on death row since July 29, 1998.
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His cause of death is unknown until the results of an autopsy. However, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said there was no suspicion of foul play.
Last year, the California Supreme Court upheld Potts’ ruling after years on appeal. The verdict came two weeks after Governor Gavin Newsom imposed a moratorium on executions and said he was in favor of lifting the death penalty in the state.
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In an unusual statement accompanying the verdict, Associate Justice Goodwin Liu said the death penalty system in the country’s most populous state was dysfunctional and expensive, and a voter-approved electoral measure to expedite executions would make it impractical.
There are currently 728 inmates on California’s death row.
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According to the CDCR, since the death penalty was reinstated in California in 1978, 82 convicted inmates have died of natural causes, 27 have committed suicide, 13 were executed in California, one was executed in Missouri, one was executed in Virginia, and 14 have died of other causes and six – including pots – are pending.