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Staff Blames Sewer For Smell While California Inmate Lies Dead In Cell For Days

March 23, 2018

An autopsy report from a California prison has recently been released, and it’s drawing a lot of attention to the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility. 58-year-old James Acuna had been sentenced to 16 years for assault with a deadly weapon and had served less than three years when he was found deceased in his prison cell in April 2017.

Acuna had last been seen on April 21, 2017, three days before staff would find his body. It is believed he died that night, as when an inmate stopped by his cell the next morning, Acuna’s cellmate shooed him away, saying that Acuna was sick with the flu. During the course of the investigation, information about his cellmate’s arrest came to light that may shed some light on this horrifying incident.

For almost three days, his cellmate managed to keep everyone out of the cell. Staff still didn’t realize something was amiss when Acuna wasn’t present and standing at cell check and just took his cellmate’s word for it. Finally, on April 24, 2017, staff forced their way into the cell to find Acuna’s dead and decomposing body. The day before they had filed a work order for the horrible smell that permeated the cell block, as they believed that it was likely caused by a problem with the sewer system.

Acuna’s cellmate, who is not being identified due to privacy concerns, was in jail for his father’s homicide. His father was found underneath his bed, decomposing, very similar to Acuna’s own death. The local Sheriff's office was in charge of the investigation and found no signs of a homicide, other than the disturbing similarity to the case that had resulted in his cellmate’s arrest.

When the cellmate was interviewed by a mental health professional, he told them that he had previously killed a cellmate at another prison because he wanted the cell for himself. It seems like this is one extremely suspicious case, and hopefully, the police will get to the bottom of this sooner rather than later!

This is a horrible story, and we know that sometimes we need a reminder of the good in the world after a horrible time like this, so be sure to check out the video below!