Cellmate suspected in prison death of man convicted of Monrovia murders
A state prison inmate serving a life sentence for stabbing an elderly Monrovia couple to death has died, and prison officials suspect his cellmate killed him, authorities said.
Alfredo Valenzuela, 50, was found unresponsive in his cell at Kern Valley State Prison during a security check early Saturday morning, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He was taken to the institution’s medical area for treatment and pronounced dead 26 minutes later. His next-of-kin was notified.
Valenzuela shared a cell with Noe Herrera, 36. Prison officials said they are investigating Valenzuela’s death as a homicide, and Herrera has been removed from the rest of the prison population.
Valenzuela was sentenced in Los Angeles County in November 2010 to a life-without-parole sentence for two counts of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary and vehicle theft. Valenzuela was convicted of murdering Charles Shaum, 78, and his wife, Bernice Shaum in 2003 after breaking into the couple’s Monrovia home.
Herrera has been at the prison since August 2019 after he was convicted of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder in Santa Barbara County. He is serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole, officials said.
Another California inmate was suspected of killing his cellmate in March in Wasco State Prison in Kern County.
Scott Gunter, 59, was found unresponsive in his cell at Wasco State Prison and was pronounced dead 34 minutes later, after efforts to save his life failed, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement.
Gunter’s cellmate, Eugene Stroud, 44, is a suspect in the homicide investigation, authorities said. The two men were cellmates and had been at the prison for less than a month.
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