Embolism killed 'Sausage King'
Coroner finds embolism killed 'Sausage King'
44-year-old on death row for slaying three meat inspectors in San
Leandro died Dec. 27
By Ricci Graham, STAFF WRITER
Convicted murderer and self-proclaimed San Leandro "Sausage King"
Stuart Alexander died of a pulmonary embolism, the Marin County
Coroner's Office said Thursday.
Alexander, 44, was on San Quentin's death row for slaying three meat
inspectors. He was found unresponsive in his prison cell Dec. 27 and
was pronounced dead in the prison's triage center.
The man who once ran for San Leandro mayor was convicted in 2004 of
gunning down U.S. Department of Agriculture compliance officers Jean
Hillery, 56, of Alameda, and Thomas
Quadros, 52, of Hayward, and state food Inspector William Shaline, 57,
of American Canyon.
The murders took place in 2000 at Alexander's family-owned Santos
Linguisa Factory in San Leandro and were captured by a security camera.
Alexander also was convicted of the attempted murder of state Inspector
Earl Willis, who narrowly escaped the onslaught after Alexander fired
five shots at him.
Alexander was sentenced to death for the killings early last year.
Prison spokesman Sgt. Eric Messick said Alexander had shown signs of
psychiatric problems since his incarceration and was moved into an
outpatient housing unit in the maximum security section of the prison
for treatment and constant surveillance.
"His mental state had deteriorated," Messick said at the time of
Alexander's death. "He was being provided the best care that this
department could have given him."
Defense attorney Michael Ogul, who maintained at the sentencing that he
did not believe Alexander would survive in jail, said the cause of
death illustrates he "was not an evil, sinister guy."
Ogul believed Alexander's mental health problems stemmed from head
injuries suffered during a motorcycle accident years ago.
"This just further demonstrates the tragedy of his life. It further
demonstrates that he wasn't in complete control," Ogul said. "He had
serious mental health problems that ultimately killed him and
ultimately resulted in the killing of others. It's really sad."
Alexander's mother, Shirley Eckhart of Elk Grove, said her son lost his
will to live after his conviction and was praying for his own death.
"The last time I saw my son, he said, 'Mom, I hate it here. I want to
die,'" Eckhart said by telephone from her home. "God answered his
prayers. He paid his price during his time there. I'm glad he's not
there anymore. He suffered greatly."
Eckhart said the coroner informed her that the embolism that caused
Alexander's heart to stop originated in his stomach.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a pulmonary embolism occurs when an
artery in the lung becomes blocked, frequently by a clot that travels
from elsewhere in the body, such as the legs. In most cases, the
condition is not fatal if treated with anti-clotting medications.
However, pulmonary embolism remains a leading cause of hospital deaths,
the clinic reports. Risk factors include inactivity, prolonged bed
rest, family history and being overweight.
Alexander gained weight after his conviction, but his health had
deteriorated to such a degree that he would not eat unless he was being
fed, causing his weight to drop dramatically in his final days, Eckhart
"He put on a lot of weight when he went in," she said. "I thought it
was because of what he ate. But it wasn't. It was because of the
(medication) he was on. But the last time I saw him, he was much
thinner. When my son was gone, he finally looked more like himself. I'm
glad it's over."
Wire services contributed to this report.
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