Thursday, May 25, 2006

Wacko #3: "The Naked Guy" Commits Suicide in Jail

Our third "not a naturist, but crazy" proved so in a tragic way...

Berkeley's notorious 'Naked Guy' dies

By Linda Goldston - Mercury News

May 19, 2006

CALIFORNIA -- Andrew Martinez, the South Bay man who gained national notoriety as the “Naked Guy'' when he insisted on walking around nude in Berkeley in the early 1990s, has died, the apparent victim of suicide.

Martinez, 33, died early Thursday after he was discovered unconscious in his cell at the Santa Clara County main jail.

He was found lying under the covers on his cell bunk, with a plastic bag tied around his head, said jail spokesman Mark Cursi. He was pronounced dead about an hour later at Valley Medical Center.

Martinez, who had been in custody since Jan. 10, was last seen alive at 11 p.m. Wednesday by an officer making regular checks on inmates, Cursi said. The officer was called back to Martinez's cell at 11:19 p.m. when other prisoners reported hearing unusual sounds.

“He was in a maximum security area, where checks are made hourly,'' Cursi said. “He was a high level security inmate because he had a history of assaultive behavior.''

Martinez, who was in the cell by himself, had been charged with two counts of battery and one count of assault with a deadly weapon, all felonies.

When he garnered headlines in 1992 and 1993, he was known as a gentle 6-foot-4 man who liked to attend class at the University of California at Berkeley in the buff.

Martinez grew up in Cupertino, where as a junior high school student, he refused to wear Nikes, Reeboks or designer clothes like other classmates, according to a relative in a 1992 interview.

He took his first nude walk about two years earlier along Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road. In the fall of 1992, he organized a “Nude-In'' on UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza against repressive clothing. It landed him appearances on a number of television talk and news shows. He was nude on most of the shows; on the “Montel Williams,'' he wore a bikini brief.

It was when Martinez lengthened his strolls in the nude to the streets of Berkeley that the city famous as a haven for free _expression adopted its first anti public nudity ordinance. And Martinez was the first to test it, being arrested on campus on Aug. 28, 1993.

Earlier that year, he was expelled from UC after school officials rewrote the campus dress code to ban nudity.

Martinez was identified by the Santa Clara County coroner's office on Friday afternoon. A family member who asked to remain anonymous confirmed that he was the man once known as the ``Naked Guy.''

The sheriff's office is investigating to confirm that Martinez's death was a suicide. It would be the first in the county jails this year. Two inmates killed themselves while in custody last year.

The bag Martinez apparently tied around his head was a see-through plastic bag used by inmates to carry their possessions when they are moved around at the jail, Cursi said.

"I'm sure they'll look at that,'' Cursi said, “although I don't know what kind of alternative there would be.''

Cursi said Martinez “had contact a couple of weeks ago with mental health'' but declined to provide any details. Martinez had not been under a suicide watch.

“It's unfortunate,'' Cursi said. “It's unfortunate anytime there is a death.''



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