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Coroner: California Prisoner’s Death Due to Starvation

Ann Marie Patrick wants an investigation into the death of her son at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville. Michael Stanley Galliher, 49, was found dead six days after he was transferred to the prison from a state mental hospital. A coroner’s report released on March 8, 2016 following a public records request from the Associated Press found that Galliher had died due to “complications of inanition” – a condition resulting from lack of nourishment.

Patrick said her son had schizophrenia that resulted in paranoid behavior in which he was afraid to eat in front of others. Along with Michael Bien, one of the attorneys representing sick and mentally ill California prisoners in a class-action lawsuit, she is calling for an investigation as part of her wrongful death suit against prison officials. Patrick was also upset that she learned about Galliher’s death after she tried to contact him to wish him happy birthday and was told he had died two months earlier. Her ex-husband had been notified, but the message was never passed along to her.

Department of State Hospitals spokesman Ken August said in an email that he couldn’t discuss specific cases or even confirm that Galliher had been their patient; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Dana Simas said officials were unaware that Galliher had not been eating. The pathologist who conducted the autopsy, Dr. Venus Azar, has stood by her findings despite a comprehensive death review conducted by prison doctors which contradicted the coroner’s ruling.

Commenting on her son’s death, Patrick said, “I think he died of neglect.”


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