Suit Filed Over ‘Naked Guy’ Jail Death

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday May 04, 2007

Esther Krenn, mother of Andrew Martinez—known as the Naked Guy—sued Santa Clara County Jail Friday in federal court in San Francisco for failing to prevent his suicide in prison. 

“The system is what led to his death,” Krenn told the Planet in a telephone interview Thursday. “I want to expose what happened in the custody of people in charge of my son who did not give him adequate care. I want to bring an end to all the problems so that other mental health patients be treated justly and humanely.” 

Krenn’s lawyer, Geri Green, said that Martinez’s death was a failure on the part of the California justice system to take care of mentally ill people. 

Martinez, 33, a former UC Berkeley student who made national news in the early 1990s for attending classes in the nude, was found dead last May in his cell in the maximum security area in the Santa Clara jail. He was in custody for three felony charges of battery and assault with a deadly weapon during a fight at a halfway house where he was living. Jail officials labeled the incident an apparent suicide.  

Mark Cursi, public information officer for the jail, told the Planet Wednesday that he had not seen the lawsuit and would not be able to comment. 

Andrew had spent 18 months in Santa Clara County jail before, prior to being sent to a state mental institution in Atascadero in June 2005. 

“He came back in January 2006 competent to stand for trial and happy. He was even calling up people at that point,” Krenn said. “But then the torment of the disease and the torment of the solitary confinement was too much for him to bear. When I saw him for the last time in April last year I could see the sadness in his eyes. I called up people at the public defender’s office and the mental health services to alert them about his condition. The next thing I heard was that he had passed away.”