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'Zoloft' rapist died in cell hours before hearing, officials say

Anthony Orban
A former Westminster police detective who was found dead in his prison cell early Friday morning was scheduled to appear in court hours later for a sentencing hearing on his rape conviction.

Anthony Orban testified that he had no memory of the 2010 attack and said he suffered a psychotic break while on a powerful dose of the popular antidepressant Zoloft, which he said had triggered hallucinations and suicidal and homicidal fantasies in the days before the abduction and rape.

A San Bernardino County jury rejected his defense that he was in an antidepressant-induced blackout, and legally insane, when he kidnapped and raped a waitress. Sentencing had been delayed while the judge investigated allegations of jury misconduct. The victim in the case was scheduled to make a statement related to sentencing at 1:30 p.m. Friday.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said Orban was found unresponsive at 2:49 a.m. in his single-person cell at the Central Detention Center. Medical personnel were unable to detect a pulse and he was declared dead at the scene.

Officials said the death does not appear to be suspicious. They declined to give any other details about the manner of Orban's death, but his attorney, James Blatt, said he hanged himself.


Support for end to California death penalty surges

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-- Wesley Lowery and Kimi Yoshino

Photo: Former Westminster police Det. Anthony Orban in San Bernardino County Superior Court on June 26, when a jury rejected his plea that he was legally insane. Credit: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times


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