Cellmate suspected in grisly prison killing

An inmate at California State Prison, Solano was brutally murdered during a brawl at the medium security facility in Vacaville in May, a state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman, Deputy Press Secretary Terry Thornton, confirmed the account of the May 4 murder of 24-year-old Nicholas Anthony Rodriguez of Oakland as reported today by the Associated Press.

Rodriguez was serving eight years for second-degree robbery and was found missing around 4:30 p.m. during a head count following a riot involving dozens of inmates that started around 7 a.m. in the Level III medium-security yards.

Prison officials at the time said Rodriguez was found dead around 9:30 p.m. in a confined space inside his housing unit, and that his death was a homicide.

Thornton confirmed details of the death included in a Solano County coroner’s office autopsy report cited in the news article. The autopsy report obtained by the Associated Press said Rodriguez was nearly cut in two and his internal organs were missing.

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Solano County coroner’s and District Attorney’s offices are investigating the death, Thornton said.

Rodriguez’s cellmate, Jesus A. Perez, 46, is considered the suspect in the homicide, Thornton said. Perez was admitted from Los Angeles County on Aug. 2009 with a 26-year-to-life sentence for first-degree murder and use of a deadly weapon, Thornton said.