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Death row inmate found unresponsive, dies in Kings County

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A man who was on death row for a murder during a jewelry store robbery in Richmond more than 40 years ago died at a state prison Friday, correctional officials said Monday.

Ronald Bell, 69, was found unresponsive in his cell at California State Prison-Corcoran in Kings County at about 6:30 p.m. Friday and was pronounced dead about a half-hour later after live-saving measures failed, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Bell had been sentenced to death on March 2, 1979, after a conviction for the first-degree murder of Raymond Murphy during a robbery of a jewelry store in Richmond on Feb. 2, 1978.

Bell had the second-longest tenure on death row after California reinstated capital punishment in 1978, according to the CDCR. Since then, 79 death row inmates have died from natural causes, 26 have died by suicide, 13 have been executed in California, one was executed in Missouri, one was executed in Virginia, 11 have died from other causes, and Bell and three others have not had a cause of death determined, correctional officials said.

There are currently 737 inmates on the state’s death row.

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