Sick California inmate dies hours before release

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(AP) – A terminally ill, convicted killer died in a California prison hours before he was to be freed to spend his final days with his family, his attorney said.

Carl Wade had been recommended for compassionate release under a state law for inmates whose death is imminent and who pose no danger to the public. He had heart and lung diseases and was classified as disabled in 2007, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Wade’s attorney, L. Richard Braucher, said an appeals court ruling directing his client’s release became final on May 29, and a judge was expected to issue a release order Wednesday. It may have been issued but didn’t reach Wade before he died early Thursday at the state prison in Vacaville, Braucher said. He was 66.

“I last spoke to him on Monday, and he was very happy about coming home,” Braucher told the Chronicle. “The system did not deliver justice to him.”

Wade was serving a sentence of 32 years to life in the fatal 1986 shooting of John Karns, a fellow woodcutter, in Lake County. The two men shared a trailer home and had gotten into a drunken fistfight before the shooting.

Wade was convicted of first-degree murder in 1989.

A prison doctor last summer determined he was terminally ill, and prison and parole officials recommended his release.

Lake County Superior Court Judge Andrew Blum blocked Wade’s release in November, noting he was in a wheelchair but still might be able to pose a danger.

The decision, however, was overruled in May by the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco, which called it a miscarriage of justice.

The appeals court ordered Wade to be released to live with his family in Chico. The state attorney general’s office did not appeal the order.

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