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San Quentin Investigating Two Apparent Suicides of Death Row Inmates

There is no indication the two deaths are related

SAN QUENTIN – California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials are investigating the deaths of two condemned inmates that occurred over the weekend.

On Friday night at about 11:15 p.m., staff found Andrew Urdiales, 54, unresponsive during a security check in the Adjustment Center. Correctional officers performed CPR. Urdiales was pronounced dead at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3.

Urdiales was sentenced to death on Oct. 5, 2018, by an Orange County jury for the first-degree murders of 23-year-old Robbin Brandley who was attacked as she walked to her car following a concert on Jan. 18, 1986, at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo; 31-year-old Maryann Wells on Sept. 25, 1988, in San Diego; 29-year-old Julie McGhee on July 17, 1988, in Cathedral City; 20-year-old Tammie Erwin on April 16, 1989, in Palm Springs; and 32-year-old Denise Maney on March 11, 1995, in Palm Springs. The murders occurred when Urdiales was stationed at various U.S. Marine Corps facilities in Southern California.

Urdiales was previously convicted of killing Cassie Corum, 21, and Lori Uylaki, 25, both from Hammond, Illinois; and Lynn Huber, 22, of Chicago, in the mid-1990s and was sentenced to death there in 2004. That sentence was commuted – in 2011 – to life in prison by former Illinois Gov. George Ryan after capital punishment was outlawed in that state.

Urdiales had been on California's death row since Oct. 12, 2018. His cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy; however, his death is being investigated as a suicide. He was single-celled.

On Sunday, Nov. 4, at approximately 10:15 p.m., staff found condemned inmate Virendra Govin, 51, unresponsive in his cell in the North Segregation housing unit. Staff administered CPR; however, Govin was pronounced dead at 10:30 p.m. He was also single celled.

Govin was sentenced to death by a Los Angeles County jury on Dec. 21, 2004, for the first-degree murders of 42-year-old Gita Kumar, 18-year-old Plara Kumar, 16-year-old Tulsi Kumar, and 63-year-old Sitaben Patel. Govin, his brother Pravin Govin, and Carlos Amador, then set the Kumars' home on fire. Govin was received onto California's death row on Jan. 5, 2005. His brother Pravin has been on death row since Sept. 19, 2005.

Govin's cause of death is also pending the results of an autopsy; however, it is also being investigated as a suicide. There is no indication that his and Urdiales' deaths are related.

Since 1978, when California reinstated capital punishment, 79 condemned inmates have died from natural causes, 25 have committed suicide, 13 have been executed in California, one was executed in Missouri, one was executed in Virginia, 11 have died from other causes and two are pending a cause of death. There are currently 740 offenders on California's death row.


Reader Comments(1)

Libsaremomos writes:

Good for them, criminals finally did the right thing.