2 California death row inmates found dead; suicide suspected

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Two condemned multiple murderers, including a serial killer, apparently committed suicide within hours of each other on the nation’s largest death row, California officials said Monday.

Corrections officials said they found Andrew Urdiales, 54, unresponsive during a security check at San Quentin State Prison late Friday.

He was sentenced to death on Oct. 5 by an Orange County judge for killing five women in California, and previously faced the death penalty for three murders in Illinois.

Urdiales had been on California’s death row since Oct. 12.

Separately, authorities say they found Virendra Govin, 51, unresponsive alone in his cell in a different death row housing unit late Sunday.

Govin was sentenced in December 2004 for committing four Los Angeles County murders.

Officials said that while both men’s deaths are being investigated as suicides, there is no indication that their deaths are related.

California has not executed anyone since 2006 and inmates are far more likely to die from suicide or old age.

Since California reinstated capital punishment in 1978, 79 condemned inmates have died from natural causes, 25 have committed suicide, 13 have been executed in California, one was executed in Missouri, and one was executed in Virginia.

There currently are 740 offenders on California’s death row.

The suspected suicides were announced the same day that a federal court-appointed special master who oversees prison mental health care criticized California corrections officials for proposing that they are allowed to start negotiating an end to federal oversight of suicide prevention efforts.

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