Man convicted of murdering GW students in 1988 unlawfully kept in solitary confinement, judge rules

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Ariana Mushnick

A man sentenced to death for the 1988 murder of two GW students was denied due process after he was kept in solitary confinement 24 hours a day in a Virginia prison, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema told the state that it could not automatically hold convicted murderers in solitary confinement for an indefinite time period. She made the decision in November for Alfredo Prieto, who was found guilty of murdering Rachel Raver and Warren Fulton III, and rejected Virginia’s request Friday to postpone the implementation of her decision, the Associated Press reported.

Brinkema said at a hearing Friday that prisons can impose solitary confinement on inmates only in certain situations, writing that Prieto is now “left alone in a small cell nearly every hour of the day.”

Death row prisoners, who sometimes spend more than a decade waiting for execution as appeals processes run their course, only leave their cells for 10 minutes three days a week to shower and for an hour of exercise five days a week, the AP reported.

Some inmates can buy television sets and CD players or borrow books from a prison’s library.

But the state argued that death row prisoners are unique and must be treated differently from other inmates, and Virginia lawyers could appeal to Circuit Court.

Prieto abducted Raver and Fulton, who were both 22 at the time, from a D.C. bar in 1988. Their bodies were later found in Reston, Va. Both had suffered gunshots to the head and Raver had been raped.

Prieto was already on death row in California for the 1990 rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl when investigators linked his DNA to the scene of the double murder nine years ago. He was also connected to the 1988 rape and murder of a Central Intelligence Agency financial officer in Virginia.

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