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Daughter of Timothy Leary Dead From Jail Hanging

JEFF WILSONSeptember 6, 1990

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The jailed daughter of 1960s LSD guru Timothy Leary died of an apparent suicide two days after she was found hanging by a shoelace from the bars in her cell, authorities said Thursday.

Susan F. Martino, 42, was found Monday hanging in her cell at the Sybil Brand Institute, where she was in custody after being judged mentally unfit to stand trial on a charge of shooting her sleeping boyfriend.

Martino, who was taken unconscious from the jail to Santa Marta Hospital, died Wednesday evening, said Mary Landreth, a Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman.

Pending an autopsy, the death was classified a possible suicide hanging, said coroner’s office spokesman Bob Dambacher.

″I can’t talk right now. I’m upset,″ the 70-year-old Leary said from his Beverly Hills home.

″She was found by deputies Monday morning ... during a routine 20-minute cell block check,″ Landreth said. ″Martino was hanging by a shoelace attached to her cell bars. Martino was alone in her cell.″

In May 1989, Martino was committed to the jail’s mental health unit until doctors could find her psychologically fit to stand trial for attempted murder.

Martino was accused of shooting boyfriend Joel Chavira, 38, as he took a nap Dec. 19, 1988. He survived the attack and told officers he found Martino holding a gun in the kitchen of her Glendale home.

Chavira, who was hospitalized briefly, told police Martino denied shooting him. The woman’s daughter also said she had not fired the shot.

Martino pleaded innocent in January 1989 to a charge of attempted murder.

At the time, her father said, ″I am extremely distressed about this tragic event. I am praying for the young man’s continued recovery.″

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