USA - California. Two death-row prisoners died of suspected suicides

08 November 2018 :

Two death-row prisoners at San Quentin State Prison died of suspected suicides over the course of the weekend. Andrew Urdiales, who was sentenced to death by an Orange County judge less than a month ago, was found dead in his cell late Friday, November 2. Late on Sunday, November 4, prison authorities found Virendra Govin, who was sentenced to death in December 2004, unresponsive in his cell. Urdiales, 54, Hispanic, was sentenced to death on Oct. 5 by an Orange County judge for killing five women in California, and previously faced the death penalty for three murders in Illinois. Separately, authorities say they found Virendra Govin, 51, Asian, unresponsive alone in his cell in a different death row housing unit late Sunday. Both inmates were being held in single cells at the time of their deaths, according to a prison statement released to CBS San Francisco. An autopsy will determine their causes of death. Govin was sentenced in December 2004 for committing four Los Angeles County murders. The victims were Gita Kumar, 42; Plara Kumar, 18: Tulsi Kumar, 16; and Sitaben Patel, 63. Govin, his brother Pravin Govin, and Carlos Amador, then set the Kumars' home on fire in 2002. Govin arrived on death row in January 2005. His brother, Pravin, has been on death row since September 2005. All male prisoners in California on condemned status are housed at San Quentin in maximum-security custody level units. But California has not executed anyone since 2006 and inmates are far more likely to die from suicide or old age. Since California reinstated capital punishment in 1978, 79 condemned inmates have died from natural causes, 25 have committed suicide, 13 have been executed in California, one was executed in Missouri, and one was executed in Virginia. There currently are 740 offenders on California's death row. While suicides are not uncommon, the pair of deaths comes weeks after a rare slaying. Officials said Jonathan Fajardo, 30, was fatally stabbed Oct. 5 (see) in a recreational yard. Fellow inmate Luis Rodriguez, 34, is considered the suspect, but investigators were trying to determine a motive and how he obtained or was able to make the weapon.


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