Danny Anderson

Danny Anderson’s attorneys have temporarily pulled his request in Tuolumne County Superior Court for release from prison due to concerns about COVID-19 while waiting for medical records about his earlier coronavirus diagnosis.

The former Sonora doctor is incarcerated at the California Institution for Men in Chino, where he tested positive on May 18 and was declared by the prison as recovered on June 11. 

Anderson is serving a five-year, four-month sentence after being found guilty of triple vehicle manslaughter and other charges for an October 2016 accident in the La Grange area that left three people dead.

A hearing scheduled for Wednesday in Tuolumne County Superior Court wasn’t held because his legal team has not received his prison medical records.

Anderson becomes eligible to be released on parole in August, though if he isn’t approved for parole his earliest possible release date would be in May 2021. He was admitted to the prison in January 2019 and eligible for serving 50 percent of his sentence because his crime was classified as non-violent.

Roger Nuttall, Anderson’s Fresno-based attorney, said they plan to continue fighting to be let out on bail before August because he has an autoimmune disease that makes him at risk of complications from the virus.

Nuttall said he expects to get Anderson’s medical records this week and estimates a hearing could be held in Tuolumne County Superior Court by July 22.

“I don’t rely on any estimates as to when he’s going to be released,” Nuttall said. “I want to proceed on the issue here without relying on anything that I have no control over.”

Anderson would have to return to prison and serve out the rest of his sentence if he’s released on bail pending appeal and fails to get his conviction overturned.

Nuttall said they want to get the medical records before proceeding with the request for release on bail because it has to do with the prison warden’s “assertion” that Anderson was recovered from COVID-19.

Anderson’s doctor, Richard E. Holevas, submitted a declaration stating that he still should be released despite having acquired and recovered from the virus because much is still unknown about immunity from the disease for people who are vulnerable.

“Our position is that he’s still at risk even though he was apparently asymptomatic,” Nuttall said. 

Nuttall also said he submitted information about Anderson to the secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as it was planning to start releasing more inmates by July 1 who had 180 days or less left on their sentence.

On Friday, the department announced plans to release as many as 8,000 inmates on early parole by the end of August.

The department released more than 3,500 inmates in March to reduce the overcrowding and prevent an outbreak, though it has still struggled to contain the virus from spreading throughout the prison system.

Anderson’s prison had the most number of cases from the virus but has since dropped off  considerably, with 63 active cases out of a total of more than 2,315 throughout the whole system as of Friday.

However, the prison still has the highest number of inmate deaths out of any other at 17 and accounts for more than half of the total 31 deaths throughout the system since March.

 

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.net or (209) 768-5175.

 

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