Courthouse arson suspect commits suicide in jail

August 16, 2010 6:30:37 PM PDT
A woman charged with arson for a June fire at the Solano County courthouse committed suicide in the Solano County jail Sunday, a sheriff's sergeant said today. By Bay City News Service Octavia Walton, 40, hanged herself from a fixture in her cell with bandages used for a pre-existing medical condition, Solano County sheriff's Sgt. Walt Gilliam said. A jail nurse discovered Walton hanging in her cell in the medical ward of the jail around 12:55 p.m. Sunday, Gilliam said. Walton had recently been treated for a medical condition that required the bandages, Gilliam said. She was pronounced dead at 1:19 p.m. by jail medical staff and was last seen alive at 10:10 a.m. Sunday by a nurse and medical officer. Walton and Benjamin Alan Stickel, 31, both of Vallejo, were arrested Aug. 5 for allegedly setting fire to the Solano County Superior Courthouse in Vallejo at about 4 a.m. on June 30. The three-alarm fire caused extensive damage to the court's criminal division offices, burning files, furniture, computers, and wiring in addition to causing smoke damage in the courtrooms. The pair pleaded not guilty to arson, possession of an explosive device, use of an explosive device to terrorize, and possession of arson material. They were scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing Friday in Solano County Superior Court in Vallejo. Walton also was charged with trying to escape when she was taken to the NorthBay Medical Center on Aug. 7. The Solano County Sheriff's Office and district attorney's office are investigating Walton's death, Gilliam said.

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