News Releases

Condemned inmate Thomas Potts dies of unknown cause

SAN QUENTIN —Condemned inmate Thomas Potts, sentenced to California’s death row by Kings County, was pronounced dead at 12:23 a.m. at an outside hospital. He was 71 years old. His cause of death is unknown pending the results of an autopsy; however, foul play is not suspected.

Potts was sentenced to death by a Kings County jury on July 23, 1998, for the murders of Fred and Shirley Jenks. He had been on California’s death row since July 29, 1998.

Since 1978, when California reinstated capital punishment, 82 condemned inmates have died from natural causes, 27 have committed suicide, 13 were executed in California, one was executed in Missouri, one was executed in Virginia, 14 have died from other causes and six – including Potts – are pending a cause of death. There are 728 people on California’s death row.


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inmate Thomas Potts