Innocent Person is the First to Die in a Pennsylvania Prison of COVID-19

Rudolph Sutton, who was being assisted by the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, is the first state prison inmate in Pennsylvania to die from complications of COVID-19.  Mr. Sutton, an inmate at SCI-Phoenix in Montgomery County, died on April 8th due to acute respiratory distress from pneumonia due to COVID-19 with contributing factors of hypertensive cardiovascular disease and liver cirrhosis.

“My father always maintained his innocence and believed someday he would be free,” said his son, Rudolpho Sutton.  “Our family is devastated by his passing but hope his death will lead to quicker actions to release his co-defendants and others who do not belong in prison because they are innocent.”

“Mr. Sutton should never have been incarcerated in the first place,” said Nilam Sanghvi, Legal Director of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. “As an innocent man who served 30 years for a crime he did not commit,  his tragic death underscores the urgent need for the Governor, the Department of Corrections, the legislature, and the courts to act quickly so that another factually innocent person does not risk death in prison due to COVID-19. “

Nan Feyler, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, added, “One of the greatest concerns in our system of justice is that there are wrongly convicted innocent people in prison.  That concern becomes a tragic failing when such a person dies – all the more so when swift action can prevent a person’s death from happening.”

The Pennsylvania Innocence Project will continue its efforts to clear Mr. Sutton’s name, as well as those of his co-defendants.