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Deemed a minor, William Garrison served nearly 44 years of his sentence before succumbing to the virus. Camp companion Garrison found him in trouble Monday night in his two-person cell at the Macomb Correctional Center.
Garrison was charged with life in prison after a 1976 home invasion resulted in Garrison shooting and killing a man at the age of 16. His sentence was cut in half in January, and he was given the choice of immediate parole or parole in September.
Garrison chose the latter.
Chris Gautz, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Corrections made a statement to the Detroit Free Press regarding the death of Garrison.
Gautz said prison staff went from cell to cell to assess prisoners in the days before Garrison’s death, and campaigner Garrison said he had no symptoms of COVID-19 except for a cough.
But Garrison’s sister, who was preparing to live with her after her release in early May, disputes their accounts of the events.
“My brother shouldn’t have died like this,” Yolanda Peterson told the Detroit Free Press. “He was trying to break free.”
Garrison had requested early release to avoid the COVID-19 epidemic in Macomb. Gautz said a post mortem autopsy confirmed that Garrison had a coronavirus, while a test confirmed that Garrison’s bunkmate was negative.
Gautz called the situation “unhappy all around,” noting that Garrison could have been released on parole earlier this year.
Michigan reported at least 30,791 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 2,308 deaths on Sunday. Michigan recently recorded a decline in the number of new cases from the third most infected to the fifth in the past few days.