Suspects identified by California officials in connection with the August stabbing death of infamous inmate Hugo Pinell had histories of prison assaults, including one case still pending, court records show.
The lethal attack on Pinell sparked a large and violent riot at a high-security state prison near Folsom. One of the five inmates who were injured in the melee remains hospitalized in serious condition, said corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton.
Aside from releasing the names of suspects in the attack on Pinell, Thornton said the department is not releasing further information, including the suspected motive of the assault.
The results of a two-month prison investigation into Pinell's death will be turned over to district attorneys in Sacramento for possible prosecution, said Lt. Aaron Konrad, a spokesman for California State Prison-Sacramento where the attack and riot took place.
The suspects are Jayson W. Weaver, 38, from San Diego County, and Waylon D. Pitchford, 37, from Tehama County.
The corrections department said both men are in segregation, but would not release their photos because of concerns for security.
Records provided by the corrections department show Weaver was convicted in 2006 for an assault on another inmate, drawing a life-without-parole sentence. He had already been serving a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole for a 1995 murder conviction.
Pitchford is facing charges in connection with another violent assault on an inmate at the Folsom prison, Sacramento County court records show. He is accused of attacking another inmate and with possession of a shank in August 2013, said his county public defender, Leonard Tauman.
In addition, Pitchford was sentenced to an additional 12 years in prison for assaulting an inmate at the same prison in 2010. Court records show the victim of that attack testified he was "targeted" for interfering with the planned attack on another inmate. Pitchford was serving a life-with-parole sentence for a 2003 second-degree murder conviction.
The Sacramento County district attorney's office refused to provide public information on the past cases, citing the possibility of new charges against the prisoners.
Pinell had gained notoriety as well as a small following. He was known as one of the "San Quentin Six" for his participation in a violent attack within the historic prison in 1971 under the leadership of black militant George Jackson.
Pinell repeatedly had been tied to other prison assaults and was serving multiple life sentences, including one for the death of a guard. He had been held in solitary confinement until this year. He was accused of being a member of the Black Guerrilla Family, a charge he denied.
Under new state policies that limit the use of solitary confinement, the elderly inmate was moved out of isolation at Pelican Bay State Prison in 2014. He had just recently been transferred to an open maximum-security yard when he was attacked, prison officials said.
Pinell's lawyer has contended his client was "a marked man" and should have been protected from other inmates.
"The prison has not addressed the question of failure to protect him," said Keith Wattley. "His family deserves answers."