Dying Inmate Can’t See Family Due To Coronavirus, Wants Release

Dying Inmate Can’t See Family Due To Coronavirus, Wants Release

Shauntrice Murry, an inmate in a Georgia prison, is dying of cancer but is not allowed visits with her family due to the coronavirus outbreak. Family photo.

Shauntrice Murry, an inmate at Georgia’s Arrendale State Prison, is dying from a rare form of cancer but the 35-year-old prison inmate is not allowed visits with her family due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Murry is serving concurrent life sentences for her involvement in a house fire that killed two children. She pleaded guilty in the 2008 deaths of two young boys.

When she found out that her cancer was terminal, Murry was told to call in her family. However, the Georgia Department of Corrections has canceled all visitation over concerns about the spread of coronavirus. 

The fight for Murry’s early release started six months ago, before the COVID-19 outbreak. Now that the pandemic has hit, her request for a medical reprieve seems destined to fail.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on the events that led to Murry’s incarceration: “One morning in July 2008, Murry pumped gas into a drink bottle at a Macon gas station, which she maintains was a favor requested by her then-boyfriend. What was it for? Murry said she did not know. Someone — it remains in dispute who — poured the gas on the porch of a woman Murry had recently argued with in front of the boyfriend, court records say. Someone lit the gas. The house fire killed two little boys who turned out to be inside: Hezekiah Harris, 2, and Tydarious Harris, 4.”

Murry was sentenced to life. She would be eligible for parole at age 65.

In Georgia, for an inmate to get such an early release, prison officials must send their request to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles. Murry’s attorneys had prison officials send her application to the parole board in September 2019. The parole board denied the request but encouraged Murry to send in a new request if her condition worsened.

Her doctor has since told her she is about to die, and prison officials started a new application that is expected to be sent to the parole board.

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“If there ever was a case warranting an immediate medical reprieve, it is this one,” said Murry’s lawyer Atteeyah Hollie of the Southern Center for Human Rights. “Given Murry’s terminal illness and the ongoing pandemic, a reprieve is imperative to allow her to spend her final days at home supported by her loved ones.”

Murry said she wants to go home to Macon so she can be with loved ones when she dies.

“Death is death,” Murry said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But I would be more comfortable (at home), and I’d be at peace. Here, I’d be alone and scared.”