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Condemned inmate from Los Angeles dies after being found in cell

The guard tower at San Quentin State Prison.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

An inmate who spent nearly three decades on California’s death row has died after being found in his cell, authorities said.

Jose Francisco Guerra, 61, was pronounced dead Monday afternoon after he was found unresponsive and alone in his cell at San Quentin State Prison, state prison officials said.

The cause of his death will be determined by an autopsy. There were no signs of foul play.

Guerra was sent to the nation’s largest death row in 1993 after being convicted of the murder of Kathleen Powell, who was stabbed to death in 1990 at her Los Angeles home. Guerra, a construction worker who was remodeling the house next door, was convicted of first-degree murder during an attempted rape.

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He is the third condemned inmate in less than three weeks to die in California. Two others died within days of each other last month.

Royce Lyn Scott, 62, had been on death row since 1997 for the Riverside County murder and sexual assault of 78-year-old Della Morris in her home, with the special circumstances of killing her while committing burglary, rape and sodomy.

He died at an outside hospital. His cause of death hasn’t been determined, but authorities said foul play was not suspected.

James Odle Scott, 71, died of natural causes at an outside hospital. Odle was sentenced to death in August 1983 in Contra Costa County for the first-degree murder of Rena Aguilar and the killing of Pinole Police Officer Floyd “Bernie” Swartz during a shootout.

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The death row at San Quentin State Prison has 706 condemned inmates.

California hasn’t executed anyone since 2006. Gov. Gavin Newsom has halted executions as long as he is in office.


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