State prison official: San Quentin death-row convict dies in hospital of apparent COVID-19 complications

SAN QUENTIN — A 48-year-old man convicted of murder and robbery died Sunday of apparent COVID-19 complications, state prison officials said.

Death-row inmate Orlando G. Romero had been receiving treated at an outside hospital, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials said. A coroner will pronounce an exact cause of death for Romero later this week.

Romero had been on death row since Sept. 4, 1996, a week after his Riverside County sentencing for first-degree murder and second-degree robbery while armed with a firearm, as well as three life-with-parole sentences for attempted first-degree murder armed with a firearm, attempted first-degree murder with other offenses, and kidnapping/robbery while armed with a firearm and several robbery offenses.

Since June, several San Quentin prisoners have been sent to Bay Area medical centers for treatment in the wake of a COVID-19 outbreak that has sickened more than a thousand prisoners.

In an ongoing campaign, protesters have sought support to ease the pandemic’s deadly impact within state prison facilities, not only on its inmates but also vulnerable staff members.

Romero was one of 715 people awaiting execution on California’s Death Row, though Gov. Gavin Newsom has effectively suspended the death penalty here.

Contact George Kelly at 408-859-5180.