A homicide investigation is under way at the California Men’s Colony after inmate Michael Walsh died Saturday following an altercation with another inmate.
A correctional officer found Walsh, 51, in the dining room lying face down, motionless and unresponsive, according to Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
He was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead at 9:05 a.m. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday to determine what caused his death. Investigators will not say what the motive may have been.
One suspect has been identified and is currently behind held in the administrative segregation unit, according to prison officials. Inmates in that unit are kept from the general population and permitted 10 hours a week of yard time in a small, supervised yard.
The suspect was not identified by CMC officials because of the ongoing investigation.
The prison’s investigative services unit is heading the investigation. An investigator from the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office is assisting.
Walsh’s death is the first homicide to be investigated at the California Men’s Colony since 2006, according to Lt. Dean Spears.
Walsh had been incarcerated at the prison since June 30, 1997, and was serving a life sentence for multiple charges, including assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, false imprisonment, sexual assault with force and assault with a deadly weapon.
Myrna Summers, his mother, had traveled from Sacramento to visit Walsh earlier this month.
She said the family was shocked to learn of his death, and that Walsh was a man loyal to his family and a model prisoner who avoided trouble.
Having served time in several other prisons, including Corcoran, Summers said Walsh was happy to be at the Men’s Colony because it was known to be considerably less harsh.
He was assigned to work in the dining room and spent his time writing, she said.
“He was doing his time and doing it as well as he could,” Summers said.
Walsh’s sister Shakati Walsh said her brother spent nearly the last two decades “of his life doing his best to make amends, to stay close to his family, make peace with God, and to do the psychological and spiritual work it takes to overcome the scars he incurred growing up in a severely domestic violent situation. ... He wore no tattoos, organized sports programs for the entire yard during his years at Corcoran, and was probably the first and only white man to cross the prison-driven racial divide by having an African-American man as a cell mate due to building a friendship through sports at Corcoran.”
Walsh is survived by his mother, five siblings and several nieces and nephews.
Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.