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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

San Bernardino County inmate suspected of murdering cellmate at Northern California jail

FOLSOM – Two men serving life sentences in northern California prisons are suspected of killing their classmates over the weekend, officials said Monday.

Deandre A. Lewis, 37, was found unresponsive on Saturday morning in his cell at the California State Prison in Folsom, Sacramento. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement that he was pronounced dead shortly after.

The department said his cellmate, 36-year-old Shamar L. Thornton, is considered a suspect in his death.

Details of Lewis’ death were not immediately released.

Officials said Lewis was jailed from Contra Costa County in 2018 and was serving life with the prospect of parole for rape, torture and other crimes. He was sentenced to additional decades for plagiarism, human trafficking with the use of a gun, false imprisonment with violence and other offences.

Thornton, of Apple Valley, was admitted to prison from San Bernardino County in 2009 and is serving life in prison without a chance of parole for first-degree murder. He and another man were indicted in the murder of a convenience store clerk during a robbery in the High Desert.

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Another inmate, Benji S. Wade, 40, died at around 5 p.m. Saturday when he was found in his cell at High Desert State Prison in Susanville, officials said.

Wade was jailed last August from Colusa County for a 13-year sentence for robbery by gun use.

Officials said John C. Connell, his cellmate, is suspected of his death.

Connell, 55, was sentenced in the late 1980s from Sacramento County to prison for armed robbery and battery with grievous hurt. Under California’s “three assault law,” Connell is already serving a life sentence, with the possibility of parole to escape the Sutter County Jail, officials said.

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