‘Guero,’ 32 Years, First Hunger Striker To Die

**many people have contacted me stating that the article title is misleading as Mr Sells was housed at Corcoran and not Pelican Bay- my response has been that the article states he passed at Corcoran -the blog posters most likely did not have the room to include any more character. I have corrected the title here on this post**

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By Staff, www.striketheprisons.com
July 27th, 2013


We received the following letter just this morning. We deeply morn the loss of ‘Guero,’ the first to die in the hunger strike.  He died for more than himself. Killed by his conditions, by this system, we remember him.

It is with a heavy heavy heart I bring you the news that a hunger striker housed in 4B-3L of the Corcorcan SHU, named Billy Michael Sell, more commonly known as ‘Guero’, died on Monday the 22nd of July. I spoke with several prisoners today about him, some that knew him very well and they were very somber and concerned. The prisoners say, “Billy died because of the Hunger Strike”. That he was “strong, was a good person, a good soldier” and that the allegations by CDCR that this was a suicide are, “completely out of character for him and that he wasn’t like that” Several guys stated, “No one believes he killed himself” He was supposedly going without water as well as food and may have had other health issues, that is unknown. As stated below, Guero is reported to have started asking for medical attention around the 15th or 16th of July, in which he did not receive and died 4 days later. He is from Riverside but none of the guys knew how to contact his family.

Here is more about him from a letter drafted for the Statewide Medical Executive, Dr. Tharrett:

“We have confirmed that CDCR claims that Billy Sell, P41250, age 32, housed in the Security Housing Unit, allegedly took his own life on July 22, 2013.

According to information we have gathered, Mr. Sell was not under care for mental illness at the time of his death.  According to other inmates near his cell, he had been requesting medical attention “for a few days” and had not received it by July 22.  The other prisoners who knew Billy confirmed that he was on the hunger strike and said it would be very strange and uncharacteristic of him to take his own life.  Inmates said that the guards reported he had hanged himself.  The other prisoners doubt the veracity of that story.

So the time has come that we were dreading but also trying to prepare for. No matter how Billy died, his life mattered and I believe that we as a coalition need to respond. I would like to suggest that we do some kind of vigil/press conference/rally at the CDCR building in Oakland, unless that was already being organized. Of course we can talk about this at Mondays meeting but I really think we should start thinking of ideas now.

I know that the mediation team is preparing look into further investigation on the legal front, so we will see what happens with that. In the meantime of any of your loved ones/correspondents/etc. are housed at Corcoran in 4B-3L and they may have some info about this, have known him, heard him requesting medical attention, please let us know.

I hope you all are well and with someone you love

In honor and respect of Billy ‘Guero’ Sell.

California state prison hunger strike

Yolanda Santoya from the Los Angeles dance group La Cuauhtemoc performs the opening ceremony before a large group marches to Corcoran State Prison in support of prison inmates holding a statewide hunger strike. (GARY KAZANJIAN / EPA / July 13, 2013)

By Paige St. John @  LA TIMES
July 27, 2013, 2:40 p.m.

A state prison inmate who had participated in the statewide hunger strike has died, apparently by hanging himself in his isolation cell, state corrections officials said Saturday.

The death of the 32-year-old man occurred Monday in the segregation unit at California State Prison near Corcoran, but was not confirmed by state corrections officials until after The Times learned of it from inmate advocacy groups. Conditions in those isolation units are the core focus of a hunger strike that began July 8 and is now in its 20th day with 601 inmates continuing to refuse meals.

State officials refused Saturday to name the prisoner because they said they could not verify that his family members had been contacted. Spokeswoman Terry Thornton said the man was found unresponsive in his cell, and pronounced dead in the prison’s hospital. She said he was serving a double-life sentence from Solano County for attempted first-degree murder and was pending trial for the murder of his cellmate in 2007, also at Corcoran.

The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, representing a number of inmate advocacy organizations, identified the inmate as Billy “Guero” Sell.

A spokeswoman for the court-appointed agency that runs prison healthcare services, Joyce Hayhoe, said the man “may have been originally on the hunger strike and then went off.”

No mention of the death was included in medical reports the receiver’s office has provided during the strike. Hayhoe said it did not appear the inmate remained part of the hunger strike protest at that time.

The death also was not reported to advocates for protesting prisoners who met with top corrections officials Tuesday, the lead mediator for that group said. Laura Magnani, with American Friends Service Committee in San Francisco, said other prisoners said the inmate had unsuccessfully sought medical attention before his death.

“This is extremely disturbing news, not only because someone is dead, but because he had tried to get medical help and had been on hunger strike,” Magnani said. “The complacency of the department about the seriousness of the prisoners’ commitment, and the prisoners’ desperation about their plight is shocking.”

The lead lawyer for California prisoners in the federal case over prison mental health care and suicides said his office had been notified of the death. Michael Bien said the inmate did not appear to have received mental health services while in prison. Bien already is asking a federal judge to order California to screen prisoners held in isolation for mental illness, and to exclude the mentally ill from those units.


10 thoughts on “‘Guero,’ 32 Years, First Hunger Striker To Die

  1. He was in Corcoran. I just talked to a wife who saw her SHU hunger striking husband in Corcoran today. He knew Guero and has been caged near him, He said get the word out it wasn’t a suicide and he was denied medical care while striking. This wife is also coming up to Sac for protest. Will get more details..


  2. Its all over Facebook wrong.

    Sent via the Samsung Galaxy S III, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone


  3. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    “We deeply morn the loss of ‘Guero,’ the first to die in the hunger strike. He died for more than himself. Killed by his conditions, by this system, we remember him.” ….. SMH!!!


  4. This is so sad!!! “We deeply morn the loss of ‘Guero,’ the first to die in the hunger strike. He died for more than himself. Killed by his conditions, by this system, we remember him.”
    We need to remember …… and do something to stop this hunger strike!!!! DO SOMETHING!!!
    Reblog: http://hrexach.wordpress.com/


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