California inmate dies in solitary cell in Corcoran State Prison amid hunger strike

Prison officials investigating possible suicide

SAN FRANCISCO - A California inmate has died in solitary confinement amid a system-wide hunger strike protesting living conditions in those cells.

Prison officials said they are investigating the death Monday of Billy Sell as a possible suicide. They are awaiting the Kings County coroner's report before making a final determination on the cause of death.

The Kings County coroner didn't return a phone call Saturday.

Inmate supporters and prison officials disagree over whether the 32-year-old Sell was participating in the strike. Prison officials said he wasn't. Activists supporting the hunger strike from outside prison say otherwise.

The hunger strike has is 20 days old. About 1,000 inmates at 11 prisons are participating.

Sell was serving a life sentence for attempted murder. He was awaiting trial for the murder of a cell mate.

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